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Vanderbilt, Gloria (MorganJ 

Double exposure, a twin 
autobiography. D. McKay Co. 


In 1921 there burst upon the 3New 
York social scene the famous Morgan 
twins, Thelma and Gloria, whose 
names in the decade that followed 
came to spell glamour and excitement 
in that magic world of the "interna 
tional set." Two continents thrilled to 
Thelma Furness s romances with Rich 
ard Bennett, Lord Furness, the Prince 
of Wales, Aly Khan, and Edmund 
Lowe. The whole world followed with 
bated breath the searing custody trial 
over young Gloria that pitted mother 
against daughter and shook the Van- 
derbilts and society. While much has 
been written from the outside about 
all of this, the two principals have 
never before disclosed the real truth 
behind the rumors and the headlines. 
And exciting as are their personal ad 
ventures and escapades, their story is 
also a portrait of an era. 

Life is mostly -froth and bubble. 

Two things stand like stone: 
Kindness in another s trouble, 

Courage in your own. 


A Twin Autobiography 



New York 


All rights reserved, including the right to repro 
duce this book, in whole or in part, in any form, ex 
cept for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. 

Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 57-1 1077 


To Tony and Gloria 



Why a twin autobiography? A good question and one we have 
often been asked. Well, in the first place we are identical twins. 
Indeed, we looked so much alike when we were children that 
even our parents were hard pressed to tell us apart. Then, too, 
our lives have been curiously intermingled in spite of the very 
different paths we have trod. At nearly every important crisis 
either of us has been confronted with, the other has been on hand 
to help. Thus there has been an intertwining of our lives, a 
pattern and a continuity rarely experienced by sisters however 

But above all there is an empathy, an understanding, between 
us that borders on telepathy. For example, when we were little 
girls of thirteen living in Hamburg, where our father was Consul 
General, I, Thelma, bought a birthday present for Gloria. It was 
a statuette of a Dresden dancing girl, and I carefully wrapped it 
and hid it so Gloria wouldn t know what I intended to give her. 
When finally the day came and we exchanged our presents, I 
was crushed to see the look of disappointment on her face when 
she opened her package. However, when I opened mine from her 
I understood; she had given me the identical figurine, purchased 
secretly at a different store at a different time. She had thought 
I was giving her back her own gift! 

When Thelma was expecting her child, I, Gloria, was in New 



York, The baby was not due until May, and I had made steamer 
reservations in what seemed ample time to be with her. On the 
last day of March I had a luncheon engagement; but about an 
hour before I was to leave the house I developed violent abdom 
inal pains, so severe in fact that I had my maid telephone to say 
I should have to cancel. I remember saying to her, as she started 
for the phone, that if I didn t know such a thing was out of the 
question I would think I was having a baby. I finally dozed off 
under the influence of a sedative; when I awoke some hours later, 
I felt completely recovered. On the bedside table was a cable 
from Lord Furness announcing the premature birth of Thelma s 
son, Tony. 

When Gloria married Reggie Vanderbilt, she had a very sore 
throat; she kept her condition a secret from everyone in order 
not to be persuaded to postpone the ceremony and disappoint 
Reggie. I, Thelma, was in Europe with my father and mother to 
establish residence for a divorce on the breakup of my first 
marriage, and thus could not come back to New York for the 
wedding and therefore knew nothing of all this. But I did 
develop a sore throat that persisted until I received the cabled 
news that Gloria had a severe case of diphtheria. 

These are but a few of innumerable instances of this strange 
sharing of each other s thoughts and feelings. Thus, while we 
differ in many ways, there is this psychic bond, this common 
entity, which is in many ways the strongest influence in our lives 
-almost as if we were Siamese twins without the physical con 
nection. Since this is the way it is with us in life, so in the telling- 
we can t imagine doing it any other way. 




I The Twins 3 

II Hither and Yon 19 

III America, Here We Are 43 

IV We Become Two 62 
V We Become Four 74 

VI New Horizons 100 

VII Heyday 108 

VIII Movies and Moving 120 

IX Duke 133 

X "I ll See You Tomorrow" 148 

XI Stormy Weather 169 

XII Honeymoon 192 

XIII Friedel 206 

XIV Wings of Love 215 
XV Renunciation 222 

XVI Enter the Prince 229 



XVII The Trap 239 

XVIII Quick Sand 254 

XIX Royal Romance 274 

XX "Take Care of Him" 305 

XXI Little Gloria Grows Up 315 

XXII Dick 320 

XXIII Little Gloria Marries 3 3 r 

XXIV Spanish Interlude 340 
XXV The Maestro 346 

XXVI Together 358 


following page 84 

Our father, Harry Hays Morgan 


Our mother s family 

Double exposure 

Little Gloria and her mother 

Little Gloria and her father 

The Breakers 

Mrs. Vanderbilt 

Thelma in Hollywood 

Presented at court 

With Duke and Tony 

Burrough Court 


The Prince of Wales 

Christmas presents for the staff at the Fort 

Friedel Hohenlohe 

Margarita and Friedel with their son 

Entrance to Schloss Langenburg 

Young Gloria at sixteen 

Young Gloria s wedding 

Elizabeth Wann, a faithful friend 

Thelma and Edmund 



Our sister, Consuelo 






The Twins 


One early summer morning at 2 A.M., at the Hotel Nationale in 
Lucerne, Switzerland, one could have heard a proud and nervous 
father say to the maid standing patiently by, "The baby is here. 
Bring the bottle of champagne. We must celebrate." 

When the champagne was brought to him, the door opened. 
From the next room a nurse came in, a baby girl in her arms. 
"You d better sit down, Mr. Morgan," said the nurse gently as 
she placed the baby in his arms. Looking at the bottle of cham 
pagne, she said, "You d better order another bottle; there is 
another baby on the way." It must have been quite a shock for 
Papa and Mamma. They already had Harry and Consuelo. 
Harry, five; Consuelo, two; and now twins. 

Our father, Harry Hays Morgan, was American Consul at 
Lucerne, Switzerland. Papa came from a long line of diplomats 
who had served their government well. Our grandfather, Philip 
Hickey Morgan, was a judge of the Supreme Court of the State 
of Louisiana and was later appointed the first judge of the Inter 
national Court of Alexandria, Egypt, and after that was given 
the post of American Minister to Mexico. Our father was born at 
Baton Rouge where his family owned a plantation called The 

Much of our family s background was chronicled in items 
Mamma kept in her scrapbook a record we had no opportunity 



to examine carefully until a few weeks before her death. Here is 
one item, an account of Mamma and Papa s wedding, that ap 
peared in the New York Herald in 1897: 

The bride became suddenly imbued with the idea that the sum of 
her happiness would be complete if she could only secure a foreign 
appointment which would carry her abroad as soon as she was 
married. Her father, General Kilpatrick, and Vice-president Hobart 
had been intimate friends. She called on Mr. Hobart and blushingly 
explained the object of her visit, an appointment for her prospective 
husband. He gallantly offered to aid her and, as a first step, intro 
duced her to the President. When the President argued that there 
were a few others who wanted foreign appointments, she answered 
gently that there were none surely more deserving than he. The 
President surrendered completely and promised that before her 
wedding was celebrated, Mr. Morgan should have a desirable ap 
pointment abroad. From the hands of President McKinley himself, 
Mr. Morgan received the commission of Consul to Berne, Switzer 
land, an appointment with a salary of $2,000 a year. 

"This is your bride s wedding gift," said the President. "I know 
you will prize it as much as you love and cherish her." 

How we managed to salvage this scrapbook from Mamma, we 
will never know. A few weeks before she died we found her 
amidst all sorts of papers torn up in little pieces at her feet: letters 
written to her father, General Kilpatrick, by Abraham Lincoln, 
General Sherman, General Custer, General Grant, President 
Taft, Vice-President Hobart, Attorney General George B. 
Wickersham, and many, many more who had made history. We 
pleaded with Mamma not to destroy these records, but it was too 
late. She kept slowly tearing one after the other. After a while, 
with a deep sigh, she said, "No, darlings, I don t intend to leave 
my past behind me." 

Mamma s obsessive pride in our ancestry and Papa s frequent 
change of consular posts were two factors that had a profound 
effect on our childhood. We were raised as children with an 


enormous pride in our background, but nevertheless children 
with no fixed home, no identification with a single country, no 
mother tongue. To this day, American as we are, we still speak 
English with a slight but odd mixture of French and Spanish 

Our childhood properly began in Holland. We had moved to 
Amsterdam from Lucerne when we were still in our toddling 
period. Then, a few years later, Mamma burst into our nursery, 
exuberant, her eyes bright with excitement, "Twins, twins!" she 

"What is it, Mamma?" we asked in duet. 

"Oh, my darlings," she said, taking us in her arms, "your 
Mamma is the happiest woman in the world." She explained that 
our father, who was then the American Consul in Amsterdam, 
had been transferred to Barcelona. "Think, darlings," she went 
on ecstatically, "we are going to Spain the land of my birth." 

We appreciated our mother s enthusiasm, but even at that age 
we were quite well aware that Mamma had been born in San 
tiago, Chile, where her father, General Judson Kilpatrick, had 
served as American Minister, and where he had later married 
Louisa Valdivieso, our grandmother. We had never known our 
grandmother, but Consuelo, our older sister, told us that when 
she saw her when Consuelo and her husband, Benjamin Thaw, 
went to Chile she looked and dressed like a duchess in one of 
Goya s paintings. Her beautiful white hair, when loosened, 
tumbled almost to the floor. She was scarcely five feet tall, but 
her hair, worn in braids around her head, formed a crown that 
added at least four inches to her height. According to Consuelo s 
report, our grandmother never for a moment let you forget that 
she was a descendant of the grandees of Spain. 

The same concern for ancestry, developed to the point of 
megalomania, was a lifelong characteristic of our mother; and 
in dramatizing her background, fantasy and invention never 
cowered before the rigors of fact. Her sudden claim to ancestral 



bonds with Spanish royalty was a case in point; but at this mo 
ment we did not care. Mamma was happy. She rose, danced 
around the room humming and singing snatches of Spanish songs. 

We stood quietly by watching her. We did not want her to 
stop. She was a different Mamma, one we had never seen before- 
gay, lighthearted. Then she stopped, out of breath, and sat on the 
sofa. "Come, twins, come and sit beside me." Taking us again in 
her arms, she whispered, "Now you will know who your Mamma 
really is. We will place flowers on the graves of Ferdinand the 
Third, King of Castille and Leon, Prince Manuel of Castille and 
his beautiful wife, Beatrice of Savoy, and on the grave of Pedro 
Ponce de Leon, Lord of Villagareia." Who were all these people, 
we wondered? What had they to do with Papa s appointment 
to Barcelona? But Mamma was happy and we did not care. She 
rose and posed for a moment, her head high. 

My curiosity outweighed my discretion. "But why, Mamma," 
I asked meekly, "why must we put flowers on all those graves? " 

Mamma looked at the two of us in amazement. "Why?" Her 
voice cut like a file. "Why? Because they are my ancestors." No 
queen ever left a room more arrogantly. 

We had never before, and have never since, given much 
thought to our ancestors. Our attitude in this area was probably 
shaped by Papa, who once said, "Those who brag about their 
ancestors are like potatoes the only good thing about them is 
underground." But Mamma had different ideas. She believed that 
the blood which flowed in her veins and ours had a direct 
intravenous connection with the scores of Spanish and other 
royalty who spanned the generations between ours and those of 
the Byzantine emperors. 

The house in Amsterdam now became a hub of excitement. 
Trunks to be packed. Furniture to be shipped. Silver to be put 
into their little blue flannel jackets. Mamma interfering with 
everybody. Having given one order, she would countermand it. 
"No, you fool," she would say in Spanish to a poor Dutch maid, 


"not there, here. * Spanish now was the only language she would 
allow spoken. Our Spanish was not too good at that time, but 
we understood enough to keep out of her way. 

Mamma s irritability was hard to understand. On the slightest 
provocation she would fly into terrible tempers. A nail file bor 
rowed from her dressing table and not put back would cause a 
storm. An answer not given quickly enough would bring forth 
an "Answer your mother" that would send us flying from those 
terrifying, flashing dark eyes. These violent storms, like most 
storms, did not last long. She would then take us in her arms with 
tears and embrace us, forgive us. Half the time we did not know 
what we were being forgiven for, but as long as Mamma said we 
were forgiven, we were happy. We are sure now that an old- 
fashioned spanking for any wrongdoing would have been much 
better for us than those emotional outbursts of Mamma s. Yet 
with all of this we loved her. 

At best Mamma was a disorganized traveler, and any move 
with her was a major one. Papa declared that he knew what 
Napoleon meant when he said he would rather move his entire 
army than Josephine and her bundles. 

We departed calmly enough from the consulate. Papa, our 
nurse Jeanne, and we were in one carriage; my brother Harry, 
Consuelo, Mamma, and the maid followed with the hand luggage 
in another. At the Centrale Station Mamma sent us on to the 
train with Jeanne while she, Papa, Harry, and Consuelo looked 
after the luggage. They missed the train. Fortunately, Jeanne 
had our tickets with her. A telegram at the next stop reassured 
us that they would be on the next train. 

We arrived in Barcelona early in the morning. In the excite 
ment of seeing a new and very different city for the first time, 
we became dumb. Our knowledge of Spanish was of no help to 
Jeanne. In desperation she handed the driver a slip of paper with 
our new address, 234 Calle Mallorca, and with the clip-clop of 
the horses hoofs, we were off to our new home. 



Barcelona is a beautiful city. Long, wide avenues called ram- 
bias are bordered on either side with magnificent old trees. The 
one we loved best of all was the Rambla de las Flores, the 
avenue of flowers. Every day under the trees the flower vendors 
set up their stalls and if you went there very early in the morning, 
before the city really woke up, you could make yourself believe 
you were in a beautiful long garden. We went there often to buy 
armfuls of mimosa, pinks, carnations, tuberoses, anything that 
was in season. We were thankful we could get these exquisite 
flowers for practically nothing, for we had to buy them out of 
our pocket money. Unlike us, Mamma did not like flowers; she 
considered them a waste of money. "Tomorrow or the day after 
they will all be dead and wilted. Then what will you have to 
show for your money?" Many a time we saw Mamma open a 
large box of beautiful flowers sent to her as a gift. Without even 
looking at the flowers she would take out the card, read it, re 
place it with her own; then, turning to the butler, she would say, 
"Take these around to Mrs. So-and-So." 

Mamma s distaste for flowers was more than counterbalanced 
by her affection for superstitions. Whatever practice had been 
established by Spanish legends, whatever had been sanctioned by 
old wives tales was Mamma s to cherish, to follow, to preach as 
infallible doctrine. 

Among other things, she frowned upon roller skates, "Mamma," 
I said to her one day, "won t you buy us skates? All the other 
children have them." The question came to her as a shock. She 
stopped what she was doing, her hand poised in midair; she 
looked at me incredulously-it did not seem possible to her that 
she had heard aright. "Roller skates? Of course not. My darling 
grandmamma always said young ladies did not run, jump, roller- 
skate, climb trees. Those were for boys to do." Mamma looked 
at us adoringly. "Why, if I let you skate your muscles would 
develop; they d grow knotty and large. Do you want to look like 
acrobats when you grow up? You know, twins, my grand- 


mamma always said, T)ainty little hands are a woman s greatest 
asset. This is why Jeanne has instructions to cream your hands 
at night and put your little white cotton gloves on when you go 
to bed." Smilingly she added, "How I love my dear, dear grand 
mamma!" Mamma may have loved her dear, dear grandmamma, 
but at that time we wished dear, dear grandmamma had never 
been born, 

Our earliest recollections of Mamma were of a very dainty 
woman, very short, and with an exceedingly small waist. She 
had dark brown eyes which she used expressively and constantly 
to telegraph her moods. Sometimes she would hide them coquet- 
tishly behind a fan; sometimes she used them to flash bitterness 
and anger. Before we asked a favor, we invariably and carefully 
checked the state of Mamma s eyes; experience taught us to use 
them as oracles. Her hands and feet were minuscule, in keeping 
with her size. Her mouth was thin; when she was angry, it 
would seem to disappear almost entirely. Her nose was long and 
thinprobably an inheritance from some Iberian ancestor. 
"Roman," she called it. 

One day Mamma announced that she was going to Paris to 
buy her wardrobe for the forthcoming visit of Sir Thomas Lip- 
ton, who, we were told, was to be Papa s and Mamma s house 
guest. We were eagerly awaiting this visit. Sir Thomas was 
arriving on his famous yacht, the Erin. We had never been on a 
yacht before and could not wait to go aboard. 

"Now, twins, don t get into any mischief while I m away or 
I won t give you the pretty dresses I hope to get for you in 

"Oh, no, Mamma," we murmured, "we ll be as good as gold." 

With a hug and a kiss for each of us, she sailed out to the car 
riage, followed by Maria, her maid, carrying her many bags and 

"There goes Josephine," Papa said under his breath, as Mamma 
stepped into her carriage. 



"Oh, no, Papa," I said, correcting him. "That was Mamma." 
Papa only smiled. 

With Mamma gone, time hung heavily on our hands. The 
house was so quiet. There were no storms, no tearful embraces, 
no words of unnecessary warning, no reminders of past glories. 
We missed Mamma; for with all her faults and affectations, we 
adored her. She was a possessive woman; and all possessive people 
most of all a possessive parent develop an abnormal sense of 
dependence in those close to them; without her we were lost. 
To fill the vacuum, Gloria and I spent hours in the drawing room 
gazing at her portrait a life-sized portrait showing her leaning 
soulfully against a pillar, her eyes, sad, looking beyond the 
horizon, as if contemplating the tragedy she was eventually to 
bring to Gloria. Her hair in the portrait was auburn, although 
she was to change its color many times in later years. 

Eventually Mamma came back, bringing us each a blue 
organdy dress she had bought for us in Paris. The dresses had 
short puffy sleeves trimmed with lace. We were happy with 
Mamma back; happy with the dresses which we considered 
good compensation for our loneliness. 

The following week we heard a great commotion in the main 
hall. We heard a man s deep, booming voice; we heard Papa s 
soft, modulated tones, and Mamma s airy responses. There was 
the sound of servants scuttling across the tile floors and the scrap 
ing of luggage. Gloria and I raced down the stairs to investigate 
the hubbub. 

In the middle of the front hall, surrounded by Mamma, Papa, 
and the servants, stood a giant of a man, with a sailor s weather- 
beaten, ruddy complexion. His blue eyes were framed by crow s 
feet. His gray hair curled. His mustache had a flourish- There 
were brass buttons on his double-breasted blue flannel jacket. In 
his hand he held a yachting cap. We landed with a hop, skip, 
and a jump at his feet. "Bless me," he cried, holding out his arms, 
"if here aren t the looking-glass girls." 


"Twins," reproved Mamma, "how often have I told you not 
to run and jump? Where are your manners? This is Sir Thomas 
Lipton." We curtsied. 

He turned to Mamma. "They ll be beauties, Laura." 

Mamma sighed. "They ll be beauties only if I last long enough 
to make them so. Right now, I doubt it." 

We liked this tall man with an aura of the sea about him. We 
each took him by the hand and led him to the drawing room. As 
he sat down, he cupped our chins. "I d say they bear more re 
semblance to Harry than you" he patted Mamma s arm 
"more s the pity, probably. You re such a dainty mite. Pocket 
size, huh, Harry? But they ve got your big brown eyes, and I 
think they ll be tall like you." 

Sir Thomas held us at arm s length. "Which is Thelma and 
which is Gloria?" 

We winked at each other, suppressing giggles. Papa looked at 
us for an instant and said, "The one on the right is Gloria." 

We shrieked. Papa, as usual, was wrong. 

For a whole week the sound of laughing voices filled the house. 
There were endless parties luncheon parties, dinner parties. 
How we wished we were old enough to join the gaiety. But our 
day came. We were allowed to accompany the family and Sir 
Thomas to see his first bullfight. It was to be a gala affair: one of 
the bulls was to be dedicated to Sir Thomas a mark of respect 
often given to visiting celebrities. A few days before, we heard 
Papa say he had taken a box at the back of the arena. 

The rear box had apparently been chosen by Papa out of 
consideration for Sir Thomas, who was a reluctant recipient of 
the honor which was to be shown him. "You know, old boy," 
Papa said to Sir Thomas, "these bullfights can get pretty gory. 
They do things to the pit of your stomach." 

But Gloria and I were innocents; all we knew was that bull 
fights were gala festivities. We wanted to be in the center of the 



fun. "Oh, no, Papa, please!" we pleaded. "Let s sit in the barreras. 
The boxes are so far away no one can see anything." 

"Now look here, Harry" Sir Thomas turned to Papa with a 
twinkle in his eye "this is my looking-glass girls day, too, and 
where they want to be, I want to be." 

We ran and threw our arms around him. From then on, he 
was our hero. 

The great day came. A cloudless blue sky greeted us when we 
awoke. Our little blue dresses Mamma had brought from Paris 
were waiting to be put on. "Look," Gloria said, "they are as blue 
as the sky." 

Dressed and ready to go long before we were supposed to, we 
sat bolt upright in our chairs, not daring to move lest we crumple 
our dresses. Hours seemed to pass before Mamma came to get us. 
She stood in the doorway; we had never seen her looking more 
beautiful. A lovely red ruffled dress was topped by a magnificent 
old white lace mantilla, held up by an enormous shell comb under 
which red roses had been tucked. Soft lace framed her face and 
fell to beyond her waist. Tapping her fan impatiently, she said, 
"Come, twins, it s time to go. You both look very pretty." We 
were ecstatic; we had the most beautiful mother in the whole 
world; and loved and admired, we were going to climax our 
excitement by going to a bullfight with her, and with our hero. 

The arena was packed; the crowd was lighthearted and festive. 
The band filled the air with the gay, teasing rhythms of the 
paso doble. And like the wings of thousands of giant, varicolored 
butterflies the women s fans fluttered in the boxes and barreras, 
creating iridescent ripples. We looked at Sir Thomas. He was 
beaming. "How colorful all this is," he said, turning to Mamma. 

We held our breath. The corrida was about to begin. Mata 
dors, toreadors, banderilleros all in their superb costumes were 
standing under the president s box, waiting for the toss of the 
key that would officially open the corrida. The president rose. 
The key flashed in the sunlight as it arced into the ring. There 


were loud shouts of Olef and the crowd settled down to watch 
the spectacle. 

Bullfighting is not everybody s sport. To most Americans and 
Englishmen it is distasteful and cruel. And although it is as thrill 
ing to Spaniards as is the World Series to us, or a Derby at Epsom 
Downs to Englishmen, Sir Thomas, it became apparent, had not 
the temperament that creates an aficionado. He was the kind of 
Englishman who believes that sporting contests are contests be 
tween equals; and that a bull, by rights, should have his own 
picadors and his own sword. 

By the time the third bull was brought in for dexterous slaugh 
ter Sir Thomas had lost much of his enthusiasm. This bull, the 
biggest and presumably the best of the day, was to be fought in 
honor of the distinguished guest Sir Thomas. Gloria and I stole 
furtive looks at our hero. He was not smiling now and his ruddy 
complexion had turned slightly green. In time a great roar went 
up. The matador had made a superb kill. 

"Thank God, that s over," we heard him whisper, almost to 

Then we saw the matador striding toward us. 

A matador who has made a brilliant kill is awarded the ears of 
his bovine adversary. The matador, in turn, usually makes the 
macabre but gallant gesture of presenting these to the prevailing 
or presiding woman of his choice. This afternoon, however, it 
was no woman who was so honored; the favor was bestowed on 
Sir Thomas* The matador stood proudly in front of our seats, 
bowing. Two bloody ears were cradled lovingly in the fold of his 
satin cape. The crowd rose, roared, rained flowers into the arena. 
The band struck up its liveliest and most triumphal music. On all 
sides people were shouting, "O/e, ole" and Gloria and I oled 
louder than anybody else. But by now Sir Thomas had turned 
completely green. Nevertheless he rose, bowed to the matador, 
bowed to the twenty thousand spectators, and graciously ac 
cepted the ears. 



Many years later in London, when I was a grown woman, Sir 
Thomas made a singular confession. "Thelma," he said, "I wish 
I had listened to your father that day in Barcelona, and sat in a 
rear box. I have never in my life come so close to being sick in 
front of twenty thousand people." 

As the years passed, Gloria and I began to grasp the fact that 
Mamma s mind had strange, dark, labyrinthine windings. Our 
understanding developed slowly. Although it was not until we 
were fully grown, and each of us had had a child of her own, 
that this quality was revealed to us in all its twisted glory, in 
cidents occurred from time to time which revealed only too 
clearly the warped, obsessive impulsions that defined her charac 
ter. One of these centered about money. There was, for example, 
the day of our First Communion. 

The great day had arrived, the most important day in young 
lives. We wanted to look like all the other little girls who were 
to receive their First Communion in their long white dresses 
that reached to the ground. They all looked like little brides; 
they had wreaths of white roses around their heads and long tulle 
veils that hung to the hem of their skirts. We, too, wanted to 
look like brides. 

Holding each other s hands, we stared at ourselves in the 
mirror. "Gloria," I howled, "we don t look like brides at all in 
our short dresses, we look like horrid little ballerinas; you know, 
like the Degas picture that hangs in the drawing room." It wasn t 
a horrid picture, really, it was a very pretty picture, but it didn t 
look at aU like a First Communion. 

"Never mind, Thelma," Gloria said, as Mamma entered the 
room, "our wreaths are pretty." 

When Mamma came into our room, she was all smiles. "Look 
at my twins," she said gaily, "they look like real angels." But 
when she saw our tears, her gaiety turned quickly to hostility. 
"Now, what s the matter with you? What are you crying 
about?" she shouted. 



"Please, Mamma, don t be angry with us. It s these silly 
dresses," I said, between sobs. "We don t look like brides at all." 

"Brides! Brides!" Mamma screamed. "What has that to do 
with it? Time enough for that. I have told you a thousand times 
money does not grow on trees. Why should I spend money on 
dresses you will never be able to wear again?" 

"But, Mamma, this is our First Communion," Gloria said 

"Don t interrupt me, you ungrateful girls." She rose from her 
chair and started pacing the floor, her hat bobbing up and down. 
Her long silk dress made a rustling noise like dried leaves gently 
blown by the wind, her fan constantly snapping like the crack of 
a toy gun. Trembling, we looked at her. Trembling, we looked 
at each other. We had never seen her so angry. 

"Do you think," she said, pointing her fan at us, "that your 
father is perfect, that he will give us anything we ask for? Ha! 
You don t know what he s really like. How I suffer! How I have 
to beg for everything! How I save! How I have to penny-pinch! 
How I deprive myself, all for you ungrateful children!" 

She sat down. Then she, too, started to cry. We looked at her 
in despair. We had seen Mamma angry before, but never in tears. 
"Oh, how I suffer!" she wailed. 

We had never heard Papa refuse Mamma anything. It was all 
very confusing. All we could conclude was that our kind Papa 
was really not kind at all; he was a monster in disguise. We 
dashed into her arms. Our tears mingled with hers. 

"Please, please, Mamma, don t cry," I said. "We don t really 
care about the dresses. Anyway, we will be different. We will 
tell the girls in school I know what we ll say; we ll say that 
we re Americans and that is the way they wear them over there." 

I was trying desperately to calm Mamma; I think I would have 
said anything that would have ended this storm of emotion* But 
unconsciously I had been an arch-diplomat; I had said exactly 
what Mamma wanted to hear. "That s right, darlings," she said, 



picking up my words, "always be different." Then, rising from 
her chair, all signs of tears now gone, she smiled. "Come, twins, 
we will now go down and show Papa how pretty you look." 

Obviously, what Mamma had said made no sense at all; all her 
complaints were inconsistent with the facts as we knew them. 
But in the face of this overwhelming show of emotion we did not 
care; Mamma was happy again, and with this transformation we 
were properly bribed. We were totally dependent on her; and 
we interpreted this dependence as intense love. Meanwhile, 
Mamma had planted in us a distrust of Papa; it was only years 
later that we understood him as the sweet, generous man he 
always was. 

Once Mamma left us in Barcelona while she went to America 
for a short visit. We were then eight, going on nine, and we had 
not yet seen our own country. We asked to be taken with her. 
Mamma did not approve, so we stayed home with Papa. But a 
week or so after Mamma left, we had a wonderful surprise. 
Dr. Mann, our family physician and friend, arrived at the house 
with four pigeons a pair for each of us. Carlos, the butleralso 
our friend built us a cage for them on the terrace. The pigeons 
seemed happy in their new home, and we promptly named them. 
They were Isabella and Ferdinand, Jeanne and Carlos. One day, 
when we got home from school, our friend Carlos met us at the 
door. "I have news for you, twins," he said, leading us to the 
pigeon cote. "Look, they have laid eggs and are sitting on them. 
Someday soon you will have baby pigeons." 

"When? How soon?" we asked. 

Carlos smiled. "You will have to wait," he said. "Nature takes 

its own time." 

Naturally, we were excited. We had never had any pets of our 
own before, much less baby pigeons. Every day after school we 
would sit by the hour, watching the nesting birds. We sat in 
silence, afraid that any sound might disturb the delicate balance 
of nature. Then one day as we clambered up to the terrace we 


heard Carlos calling to us. "Look, twins/ he said, "they are here 
the little pigeons six of them." 

We ran to the nest, and we were horrified. We had expected 
soft, fluffy little things-like the baby chicks you see at Easter. 
Instead, we saw six wet, ugly little creatures with heads bigger 
than their bodies. We were ready to cry. But Carlos comforted 
us. "Wait and see," he said. "In a few days they will be beauti 
ful." And they were. 

Meanwhile, we racked our brains trying to find suitable names 
for them. Mamma returned from America. "Come, Mamma," 
I said. "Come outside and see what a beautiful sight we have to 
show you." 

Mamma took one look at our baby pigeons; then, to our 
horror, she ordered them killed. From inside the house we heard 
her say to Carlos, "Let the parent pigeons loose, Carlos. Then 
kill the baby pigeons. We will have them for dinner." 

"Oh, no, Mamma!" Gloria wailed; "please let them stay at least 
until they are old enough to fly away." Now, very near hysteria, 
we screamed in turn: "Don t kill them! Don t kill them! Why? 
Why? They re so little they don t take up any room at all." 

All our pleading left Mamma cold. Her mind was set. 

"Why are you doing this?" I screamed, as she turned to leave. 

"Why?" Mamma looked at me with ice in her eyes; I had 
dared to question her orders. "Because," she said, "my dear 
grandmamma always told me that pigeons bring misfortune, bad 
luck, and poverty into a house and my dear grandmamma was 
always right." 

Gloria and I put our arms around each other and cried help 
lessly and in desperation; this was our first great grief. But 
whether we were brokenhearted or not, that night we were given 
squab for dinner. Carlos must have been crying, too, for as he 
served our baby pigeons we noticed that his eyes were red and 


Heads down, out of the corners of our eyes we watched 
Mamma. "Eat your dinner/ she commanded. 

"Oh, no, no, Mamma/ 7 Gloria said pathetically. "We cannot 
eat our babies." 

"Stop this nonsense/ Mamma snapped. "Eat your dinner or 
leave the room/ 

The tears again started down our cheeks. Together we got up 
and left the room. Through the fog of our feelings we were 
conscious of her brittle voice announcing, "No dessert for a 

We went to our room and sobbed until we were exhausted. 
"I don t care if we never have dessert again/ Gloria wailed. "I 
only want to bring our baby pigeons back to life." And together 
we cursed this ogress of a grandmother, a woman we had never 
seen and would never see who seemed to stand for everything 
that didn t matter, and who seemed to destroy everything that 



Hither and Yon 


In 1913 Papa was appointed Consul General at Hamburg. On 
hearing the news, Mamma exploded. We heard her say to Papa, 
stamping her foot, "This is final, Harry. I m not going to take 
the children to that dreadful country. And that s that." 

Papa shrugged his shoulders. "Have it your own way," he 
said. "You always do. But I m going to miss you and the chil 
dren." Apparently Papa had had all he could take of Mamma s 
whims and tantrums; he was now preparing to lead his own life 
in his own way. 

Mamma had a phobia about Gerrnans, as she had about money. 
I don t suppose it is possible to pinpoint the origin of phobias; 
their roots seem imbedded in some dark, disturbed area of the 
brain, and they are not necessarily related to actual events or 
experiences. But it seems clear that Mamma s hatred of Germans 
began early probably under the tutelage and with the encour 
agement of her "dear" grandmamma who was so vehement 
against pigeons. Her father, General Kilpatrick, when American 
Minister to Chile, had been delegated to mediate the Tacna 
Arica, a border dispute between Chile and Peru; the territory 
included rich saltpeter mines claimed by the Germans, and at this 
time in Chile feeling ran high against the Germans. 

At any rate, Mamma stood firm on her refusal to set foot in 
Germany; and Papa went alone to his post in Hamburg. Mamma 



meanwhile moved us all to a small apartment in Barcelona. And 
with this move Mamma began the penny-pinching which we 
were to know unnecessarily, it seems for many years to come. 
Gone was our terrace, our big playroom; gone was the warm 
and thoughtful Carlos and most of the other servants. Mamma 
had decided to keep only Jeanne, our nurse, and Maria, who 
became the maid-of-all-work. We gave Maria, affectionately, a 
nickname; we called her "Maria the Horse"-because Mamma 
worked her like a horse. Originally, she had been Mamma s per 
sonal maid, but after Papa left she did everything. 

Mamma s insidious innuendoes relating to Papa did not stop 
with his departure. One day she said bitterly, "Your father 
doesn t send me enough money to keep body and soul together. 
I suppose he s spending a fortune on some German woman. He 
doesn t care what becomes of us." 

Even at this time Mamma s complaints did not make sense. 
Papa had always been kind to us, and when he was with us, we 
always had everything. But whenever we questioned what 
Mamma said, she would unleash her tears, saying pathetically, 
"You don t understand. You don t know your father/ Then, 
with the gestures of a Bernhardt, she would declaim: "Oh, how 
I suffer! How can he treat his children so?" 

But we were not yet wise enough to stand up to Mamma s 
distortions. Mamma dominated us. We needed her; disturbed 
and disturbing as she was, she was all we had to cling to. And 
when Mamma indulged herself in hysterics and mock-heroics, 
we suffered through contagion; our only world was threatened. 
We would rush to her and try to be comforting. "Please, 
Mamma," I would say, "don t cry. You have us and we have 
you. And we love you so much. We don t care if Papa is mean. 
We have each other and we always will have each other." 

She naturally attempted to make us consider ourselves indirect 
victims of Papa s self-indulgence. "You had both better marry 
rich men," she would say with Cassandra-like solemnity. "You re 


extravagant, you know. You never save. You give everything 
away. If you want to play at being Lady Bountiful, you had 
better marry someone who can give you what you need. When 
your father dies, you know, there won t be very much to divide 
among you children, and he probably has squandered even that 
little bit on his mistresses." 

Yet for all this our life in our new home was, on the whole, a 
happy one. The darkest times were the days Mamma received 
letters from Germany. There was, for example, the time Papa 
described his meeting with the Kaiser: 

" Last night I dined on Albert Ballin s yacht. " Mamma was 
reading aloud from Papa s letter. " Herr Ballin is the president 
of the Hamburg- American Line. The Emperor was his guest. " 
The letter went on to describe the dinner. We found the details 
exciting. Papa told of the Kaiser s valet who brought the Em 
peror a special knifelike fork which made it possible for him to 
cut his food adequately with his left hand; he gave us a graphic 
picture of the Emperor resting his deformed right arm on the 
dinner table. But to Mamma all this reporting was a veiled de 
scription of royal orgies. "That s your father for you. There he 
is, dining on yachts, cavorting with emperors and God knows 
whom, and all the while I sit here looking after you children." 

None of us had courage enough to ask, "Why are we here? 
Why don t we join Papa?" 

One day, a few months later, Dr. Mann joined us for lunch. 
Mamma sat at the head of the table. She seemed preoccupied. 
Suddenly turning to Dr. Mann, she said, "Doctor, I had a letter 
from Harry yesterday. He says the assassination of Austria s 
Grand Duke might have grave repercussions. It might even 

mean war." 

Gloria and I glanced at each other. We could not understand. 
"War?" "Austria?" "Assassination?" What did these things have 
to do with us, happy in Spain? Why did Mamma look so wor 
ried? We looked at Dr. Mann for the answer, but he, too, sat in 



deep thought, his head lowered, his great white beard almost 
reaching the top of the table. Then, slowly raising his head, he 
turned to Mamma, and said, "Don t worry, Laura, Harry may 
be exaggerating the seriousness of the situation. It may pass over." 

Mamma started to cry. Great tears rolled down her face. These 
were not the hysterical, tempestuous tears we knew so well 
These went far deeper. 

"Why don t you stay here in Barcelona for the time being? 
You will all be safe here." He took her hand. "Perhaps you are 
making things worse than they are, Laura," he said. "The situa 
tion may not be as serious as you think." 

During the next few days a thick gloom settled over our lives. 
Our cramped apartment seemed like the House of Usher, wait 
ing, in ominous calm, for the walls to crumble. Then the war 
came. The ominous calm gave way to hysteria. Through the 
open windows we heard frenzied shouting in the streets: "E$ la 
guerra! Es la guerra!" Mamma dashed to our room and held us 
close to her. "I knew it! I knew it!" she shouted. "Those bar 
barians! Those assassins! We will never see Papa alive again! 
I know it! I know it! " 

We stood there, her arms about us, clutching us in frenzy. 
Mamma s panic extended to us; we, too, were frozen with fear. 
At this moment Jeanne intervened tactfully. "Mrs. Morgan," she 
said in a calm voice, "don t you think it s time for the twins to 
take their walk?" 

Mamma s panic turned instantly to rage. "Do what you like 
with them," she snapped, then stalked out of the room. 

What had we done? "Oh, Mamma, Mamma," Gloria pleaded. 
"Come back to us. We love you. Don t leave us." 

But now Jeanne was mad. "Stop this nonsense," she said. "Go 
wash your faces and get ready for your walk." Meekly we did 
as we were bidden. 

Mamma s hysterics must have overbalanced her reason, for a 
few days later she announced she was taking us all to England. 


Why? Barcelona was so safe and friendly. It had been our home 
for many years. And Spain was not at war. The obvious thing to 
do was to remain where we were; but Mamma never did the 
obvious thing. 

Our sister Consuelo, Mamma, and we left Barcelona early in 
August of 1914. Jeanne was not coming with us; she wanted to 
return to her family in France. Poor "Maria the Horse" was also 
left behind. 

The trip, as we remember it, was a nightmare. The train tak 
ing us to Bilboa was jammed. Mamma had not been able to secure 
sleepers; third class was the best she could manage. How we 
hated the confusion, the rush, the melee of that trip. We would 
take turns sitting; there were not enough places for all of us. If 
we thought the trip was a nightmare, it must have been agony 
for Mamma. 

The voyage from Bilboa to England was not much better. 
The ship was small, hardly able to accommodate half the people 
that crowded her. We huddled together against the cold, damp 
night air and tried to sleep on the hard deck. I am sure Mamma 
never closed her eyes the whole night through. I vaguely re 
member her gently replacing a rug that must have slipped in our 
restless sleep, her hand placed tenderly on us, reassuringly. What 
a strange woman this mother of ours was! What a paradox! In 
one breath she was selfish, demanding, arrogant; in the next lov 
ing, kind, tender, indulgent. The contradiction confused us then, 
as in retrospect it still does. 

We all breathed a sigh of relief when we sighted England. 
The Hyde Park Hotel was to be our first home in London, but 
not for long. Mamma had entered us in Strathalham House, a 
French boarding school conducted by Mademoiselle Dessin. As 
soon as we were settled, she reversed her anti-German stand and 
left for Hamburg. 

This was our first experience away from home. We missed 
Mamma. We were homesick. We were miserable. Our few 



words of English were of no help to us. The English could not 
understand us, nor we them. We could talk only with a few 
French and Belgian girls who were as miserable as we were. 

The autumn and winter of 1914 were frightfully cold in 
London. We missed the friendly, warm country we had left. 
We suffered from chilblains, from the boiled food, from those 
eternal Brussels sprouts, those awful blue serge uniforms, and 
those rough black cotton stockings. Nothing is more depressing 
than an English schoolgirl s outfit. But what we hated most of 
all were the daily walks we were forced to take, rain, fog, or 
shine. In our blue serge creations we were marched two by two 
to museums, to the Tower of London, and sometimes this to 
our delight to the gardens at Kew. There is nothing more beau 
tiful than Kew in die spring. 

The war at first did not affect us much, save for a night air 
raid every now and then. Then we would be rushed to the cellar. 
When the all-clear sounded we would return sleepily to our 
beds. We learned to roll bandages. We learned to knit 

Just after Christmas we got a letter from Mamma, announcing 
her return to London. She would be with us within the week. 
We jumped up and down. We hugged each other. We went 
wild. Mamma was coming back. 

The great day arrived and we got permission to spend the 
weekend with her. As the chaperone looked up at the number of 
the address we had given her, she said, "Are you sure this is the 
right address?" We took out Mamma s letter. There was no 

"H-m," we heard her mumble, "a boaxdinghouse." 

We didn t care whether it was a boardinghouse or St. James s 
Palace. Mamma was inside waiting for us. When the door 
opened, we flew to her. Partly in English, but mostly in Spanish, 
we told her how we had missed her, how we loved her. 

"Now, twins, you must speak English," she said, with her 


strong Spanish accent. "You know you re little American girls. 
Speak English from now on." 

"Yes, yes, of course/ I said. At that moment we would have 
done anything to please her to bribe her to keep us with her. 

"But wait, queridas" she said, smiling, "you haven t heard the 
best news yet. We are all going to spend the summer holidays 
with your father in Germany." 

That weekend passed all too soon. Being with Mamma again 
only brought to a focus all the loneliness we had suffered at 
boarding school. We felt free once more. Mamma s ways were 
irrational and often cruel, but at least they were familiar; there 
is a feeling of liberation whenever one comes back to what is 
warm and familiar, no matter how tyrannical it may really be. As 
I look back, I am sure that Mademoiselle Dessin did everything 
within her power to make us happy. But we were such little 
misfits at Strathalham House. Our earlier childhood had been so 
erratically directed, so lacking in sensible discipline, that we must 
have been more than she could cope with. And, on top of this, 
we were so alien so proudly, professionally Spanish! 

Just before we left Mamma to go back to school, the recollec 
tion of the thoughtless if not snobbish remark of the chaperone 
prompted me to ask Mamma about the boardinghouse. "Why are 
you staying in this awful place? " I asked, looking at the faded 
green curtains and the shabby plush upholstery. "The Hyde 
Park Hotel was so nice. We don t like to see you living here." 

"Do you think I like this any more than you do?" she shouted. 
"I have told you a thousand times your father won t give me 
enough money to keep body and soul together. I just have to 
scrimp and save. If I don t, what is to become of all of us?" 

We retreated at once. "Of course, Mamma," Gloria said sooth 
ingly, "we understand." The last thing we wanted, at that time, 
was to have Mamma angry with us. Of course we did not under 
stand. But this was no moment for parliamentary debate. 

The next few months were an agony. We were waiting for 



liberation; and no two prisoners in Siberia could have waited 
more anxiously for the day of reprieve. June, it seemed, would 
never come. We did our school chores, wore our drab uniforms 
without complaint, and took our walks dutifully in the damp 
English air. 

At last June arrived; we were to leave our prison and sally 
forth to high adventure a new country, a new life, fun, Papa. 

Our apartments at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten were large and 
comfortable; we were once again surrounded with all the luxuries 
we had always had when we were with Papa. No more was there 
the scrimping Mamma insisted on, with the explanation that 
Papa deliberately deprived her and usof the pleasant things of 
life. Gloria and I had a large bedroom overlooking a beautiful 
garden; we also had a large classroom in which we were to study 
with our governess. We were introduced to this governess, Fniu 
Hoffmann, soon after we arrived. She was what the Germans 
call ho ch geboren; and, like a noncommissioned officer^ she made 
it a special point to assert her rank. We hated her from the mo 
ment she came into our lives; and her distaste for us seemed 
equally strong. She considered us undisciplined, self-willed brats, 
which we undoubtedly were; but she also considered it her duty, 
a German duty which is a kind of perpetual self-flagellation 
to teach us manners, German manners, The social graces, as she 
interpreted them, required us to kiss the hands of married women 
and to stand whenever she entered the room. 

When Mamma learned of Frau Hoffmann s orders to us, all 
of her lifelong hatred of things German rose in her. No, Frau- 
kin!" she bellowed, in the process demoting Frau Hoffmann to 
the status of an unmarried woman. Then she intensified the 
insult: "My daughters will never be taught to kiss a woman s 
hand, nor to rise when a servant enters the room." 

Frau Hoffmann shot Mamma a look of disdain, as if to say, 
"What can you expect from such a woman?" Then she spun 
stiffly on her heels and left the room. We expected Mamma at 


that moment either to go into her standard hysterics, or else give 
Frau Hoffmann her walking papers. She did neither. She merely 
turned to us and said, with supreme detachment, "You see, I 
always told you the Germans were barbarians. Think of my 
daughters kissing German women s hands! Never!" Neverthe 
less, we were left in the scarcely sympathetic care of this new 
governess. Meanwhile, Mamma, ever unpredictable, announced 
calmly that Papa was expecting us to have tea with him at the 
Consulate. "Come, twins," she added, "we must hurry." 

We loved to go to the Consulate; there exciting things were 
always happening. Each day the war situation created new emer 
gencies. Papa had organized a committee of American business 
men, who contributed funds to aid Americans stranded in Ham 
burg. The money from this emergency reservoir was doled out 
weekly. Many of the visitors to the Consulate were Americans 
who could no longer get money from home, nor enough money 
to pay their passage home; others were Germans who had be 
come American citizens and now found themselves caught 
between the jaws of an international vise. Although Papa at that 
time had a large staff to help him, he saw personally as many 
callers as he could. His patience was unending; he not only took 
care of American consular affairs, but doubled for the now 
absent British and French consuls. He once described to us how 
in the middle of the night of August 3, 1914, Sir Walter Hearn, 
the British Consul General, had waked him from a sound sleep 
and asked his help to seal the archives and destroy the codes and 
confidential files in the British Consulate; the German govern 
ment had given him only a few hours in which to pack and leave 
the country. Papa and Sir Walter worked through what re 
mained of the night. 

When we first arrived from England we had with us white 
middy blouses Mamma had bought for us at Selfridge s, in Lon 
don. The pockets of those middy blouses were embroidered with 
American and British flags in bright colors. Not giving any 



thought to what we were doing, much less realizing the possible 
consequences, we sailed out into the streets of Hamburg one day 
gaily flaunting the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. 

Frau Hoffmann was not a naturally observant woman. Walk 
ing a few steps in front of us, she found it hard to understand 
why a little boy, pointing his finger at us, shouted belligerently, 
"Schweinehund Englisher! Schweinehund Englisherf" She 
turned quickly and looked at us. Then she noticed the flags. 
"Ach, rnein Gott" she screamed, and made a grab for us. But by 
this time we were thoroughly scared. We ducked away from her 
and bolted down the street. I was in the lead; Gloria, panting 
behind me, shouted, "What s happened? What have we done 

"Don t be an idiot!" I screamed back over my shoulder. "This 
is no time to ask questions. Just run!" 

We ran, but not fast enough. A woman caught up with us and 
started to tear off the offensive pockets. By this time we had a 
mob around us, everybody screaming, everybody shouting, 
everybody pulling at us. Frau Hoffmann finally managed to get 
through the mob. Grabbing us with a firm hold, she yelled at 
them, "Stop! Stop! These are the daughters of Mr. Morgan, the 
American Consul General." 

I don t know whether it was the American Consul part or the 
General part, but the crowd slowly dispersed, glaring at us. 
Germans have always had great respect for rank and, after all, 
she had said "General." 

Wait till I get you home," Frau Hoffmann said threateningly 
as she dragged us back to the hotel. 

"Wait till Mamma hears about this," I snapped back at her. 

When Mamma saw us, our clothes torn and disheveled, and 
my nose bleeding, she was in a rage. Gloria, taking a page out 
of Mamma s book, screamed, "Look, Mamma, look what these 
Huns have done to us! Look at what they ve done to Thelma- 
she s bleeding to death." 


Mamma glowered at our governess. "What is the meaning of 
this, Frau Hoffmann?" she demanded. "What have you done to 
them?" Her tone was granite hard; and her cold, penetrating look 
would have frightened a woman even stronger than Frau 

The governess, backing toward the door, explained to Mamma 
about the middy blouses. "Surely," she said, justifying herself, 
"surely I can expect children of their age to dress themselves." 

"Frau Hoffmann," Mamma answered scathingly and she 
looked five inches taller at this moment "I did not engage you 
to dress my children. I engaged you to see that they were 
properly dressed. You may leave the room." 

This was not the Mamma of tantrums and hysterics; this was 
our Mamma dignified, stately, calm; this was the way we wanted 
to think of her. This was the Mamma we loved. 

For the most part we followed Papa s instructions obediently 
we spoke only Spanish in public. But one day, going up in the 
hotel elevator to our rooms, we noticed next to us a German 
officer standing at attention standing with the special Cleo 
patra s Needle stiffness that only German officers seem capable 
of assuming. His spiked helmet seemed glued to his head, his 
handle-bar mustache stood out in arrogant pride. The sight of 
so much pomp and pretense was too much for us; Gloria and I 
immediately started to chatter in English. 

At once the mustache quivered. The officer glared at us fero 
ciously. "How dare you speak English?" he bellowed at us in 
his rough Prussian English. "Shut up!" 

With all the dignity we could muster, we turned to him and 
said, "We are not speaking English, we are speaking American. 
And we think it is you who should shut up." 

"Stop this elevator at once," the officer roared at the elevator 
girl, who was thoroughly frightened. 

"/#, Herr General von Hindenburg," she said, her voice 
quavering, "ja, mem General" She brought the car to a suddea 



stop and threw open the doors. We flew. We were halfway up 
the stairs before we heard the great champion of Kultur yell, 
"Get out! Get out!" 

A time came when Mamma was to be presented to the Kaiser. 
We wanted to be presented with her. By then we had learned 
who General von Hindenburg was; and as we had acquired a 
somewhat personal interest in his mustache, we had the kind of 
desire now to be found only among bobby-sox autograph hunters 
to appraise the Kaiser s famous mustache and compare it for 
length and curvature with the General s. To console us for not 
meeting the Kaiser, Mamma took us with her to Berlin and 
allowed us to have tea at the Embassy with Mrs, Gerard. The 
Ambassador s wife seemed a poor substitute for Emperor Wil- 
helm; she could not, under any circumstances, offer us a mus 
tache to contemplate; but this was to be our first opportunity to 
attend a tea party for grownups, and we were thrilled. We were 
dressed in our prettiest white frocks. Facing us in the carriage on 
our way to the Embassy, Mamma gave us our last-minute instruc 
tions. "Now remember, twins," she said, "don t speak until you 
are spoken to and behave yourselves." 

The Embassy was large, ornate, and to our eyesbeautiful. 
Mrs. Gerard had been an old friend of Mamma s. She rose from 
the tea table as we entered, and said, "Laura, how nice to see 
you!" Then, looking at us, she added, "So these are the twins 
I have been hearing so much about." 

The last remark seemed cryptic. Had we been in so much 
trouble that word of us had been sent to the American Embassy 
in Berlin? Or had Papa merely been boasting? Apparently all 
was well, because Mrs. Gerard smiled at us warmly and said, 
"Come, twins. Do sit down and have some tea and cake." 

We sat down timidly. We became worried, however, when 

we discovered that there was no table on which to rest the cup 

and saucer and the plate of cake that were handed us. It seemed 

to us that Mrs. Gerard was quite thoughtless. Gloria looked over 



to me to see how I was handling the acrobatics of the ceremony. 
I, who was served first, put the cake plate on my lap. With two 
hands I clutched the cup and saucer. I saw a determined look in 
Gloria s eye, and I knew she was saying to herself, "If Thelma 
can do it, so can I." 

As I raised my teacup to my lips, I heard the crash. Gloria had 
not quite made it. I looked at her from the corner of my eye; 
she had definitely not quite made it. The cake and broken china 
were a mess on the floor; the spilt tea made a spreading stain on 
her lap. She tried to apologize half in English, half in Spanish. 

Mrs. Gerard cut her short. "That s quite all right, Gloria," she 
said. "The maid will bring you another cup." And to Mamma 
she added, with dubious diplomacy, "Please, Laura, don t worry. 
You know how children are." 

I was furious at Mrs. Gerard "You know how children are!" 
She "knew," indeed! This is the kind of diplomacy that creates 
wars; if she knew how and what children are, she should have 
known that their laps are not as big as grownups and were never 
intended to balance a small buffet. But Mamma characteristically 
put all the blame on the German nation. "I knew it," she said 
angrily, on our way home. "Frau Hoffmann can t even teach 
children how to behave at a tea. All she can teach them is how to 
kiss women s hands. But what can you expect? These Germans! * 

A month or so later Mamma decided to put us in school in 
Switzerland. One afternoon she went out to get the necessary 
exit permits and visas. We were at home with Papa, who enter 
tained us by reading aloud from "The Lady of the Lake" one 
of his favorite poems. Papa was always a romanticist; he be 
longed, by nature, to the world of Walter Scott. We were deeply 
engrossed in the poem when suddenly the door of Papa s study 
flew open and Mamma stormed into the room. "Harry," she 
shouted, "what is the meaning of this?" 

Papa carefully closed the book. "The meaning of what, 


"What? What, indeed! These filthy Germans have just in 
formed me that should I leave the country they will not allow 
me to return. When I asked why in heaven s name not, they 
politely told me that while they were delighted to have me remain 
in Germany, they would prefer I do not leave again till the end of 
the war. What do they mean, Harry?" she said, stamping her 
foot. "Answer me!" 

Since Mamma had come to live with Papa in Hamburg, she had 
made many trips out of the country including her visits to us 
in England. Papa tried patiently to explain to her how this travel 
might be regarded by a country at war. "Now look here, Laura," 
he said. "You must understand what all this means. A serious war 
is on. And you have insisted on making trips to England an 
enemy country; to Switzerland, to Holland, to England again, 
and then each time come back to Germany. I have told you 
before, the authorities here consider your journeys highly 

This was too much for Mamma. Her breath had now come 
back to her. What do you mean?" she screamed. "Do they think 
I am a spy?" 

"Damn it all, Laura," Papa answered, for once losing his calm, 
"this is their country. And they are at war. And they have a 
perfect right to question any scatterbrained woman who decides, 
at the drop of a hat, to come and go as she pleases." 

For once in her life Mamma was speechless. She simply stood 
in the middle of the room and glared at Papa. Gloria winked at 
me. "Papa," she whispered, "is really mad." 

Papa must have overheard this whisper, because he slowly 
turned around, faced us, and said, "Twins, I think you had better 
leave the room." 

Reluctantly we got up and moved toward the door. From the 
hall we heard Mamma s voice, now shifted to the tone she used 
for irrevocable decisions. "Very well, Harry," she said, "we are 
going to Switzerland." 


The next few days were not pleasant. Papa was angry with 
Mamma. Mamma was angry with Papa. The only one in the 
household who was pleased was Frau Hoffmann; she beamed; 
her face was radiant with a beatific glow. Frau Hoffmann, I am 
sure, was delighted with the prospect of saying good-by to the 
whole confusing Morgan family. Our own reactions were mixed. 
We were happy at the thought of leaving Germany and moving 
to a country where we could understand and be understood. On 
the other hand, we hated to leave Papa. We also felt we were 
abandoning our responsibilities; we had been visiting the 
wounded British soldiers in the military hospital in Hamburg; 
we believed they depended on us, and would miss us. 

We were heartbroken when Papa said good-by to us on the 
train. "Don t cry, twins," he said gently. "I ll come to see you 

We reached the German-Swiss frontier late that night. The 
cold was intense; the mountain slopes were blanketed in snow. 
The passengers on our train were herded into another train, 
which was to take us into Switzerland. As we got up to follow 
them, a German in uniform approached Mamma and said, "Mrs. 
Morgan, will you follow me?" 

"What next?" we heard Mamma say to herself. 

We were taken into a wooden shack lighted only by kerosene 
lamps. An acrid, vile smell from an old-fashioned oil stove per 
meated the room. We all huddled together, partly for warmth 
but mostly from fright. It was long past midnight when a tough- 
looking woman, who could well have been a movie version of a 
hard-boiled prison matron, came into the room. Without a word 
she walked up to Mamma and roughly started taking down her 
hair. Mamma must have been in a state of shock for she meekly 
allowed her to continue. 

Then, to our horror, we heard the woman tell her to undress. 
Mamma quietly and deliberately did as she was bidden. The 



woman then took the clothes and handed them to someone 
outside the door. 

Out of a bowl of what looked like dirty water she took a 
sponge and proceeded to wash Mamma s back. We presume now 
she was in search of invisible writing. Then, turning to us, she 
said, "Now, kinder, it s your turn." 

When our clothes were returned to us, we were taken to 
another room, where our trunks and suitcases were standing 
open, being gone through with a fine-tooth comb. All the hems 
and linings of our clothes had been ripped. All printed and 
written material had been set aside, including Mamma s little 
mother-of-pearl prayer book her grandmother had given her on 
the day of her First Communion. One of the guards picked it up 
and turned its pages. Then we heard Mamma say to him, in a 
tone like the rat-tat-tat of a machine gun: "Take it and read it! 
You need it!" 

By the time the ordeal of our examinations was over, the train 
we were to have been on had long since departed. We stood for 
many freezing hours waiting for the next train that could take us 
into Switzerland. When we finally arrived in Montreux, we were 
convinced of the truth of Mamma s "dear, dear grandmamma s" 
opinion: The Boches were barbarians. 

In Montreux we stayed in a charming residential hotel set in 
the center of a large park. Mamma was delighted to find several 
of her old friends there: Amelia Ortuza and her mother, who had 
been a Figueroa and was related to Mamma; and Mimi Pecchi, a 
niece of Pope Benedict. Also at the hotel was the Infanta Eulalia, 
who was my godmother. 

Although Mamma remained at the hotel, Gloria and I were 
moved to a nearby boarding school. Our recollections of that 
school are vague; we were there only a short time. What I recall 
are the delightful weekends we spent with Mamma, and the 
pleasant days we had rowing on Lake Geneva, picknicking near 


the Chateau de Chillon, where the "prisoner" was held; and 
going up and down the funicular railway. 

Papa arrived in Montreux on our birthday, making it a doubly 
significant occasion. We were all together again; and we were 
terribly happy. But that day was also important to us for the 
news we picked up through a half-opened door in Mamma s 
hotel suite. We heard Papa s voice saying, "The New Amster 
dam sails for New York on the fourth of September. You will 
have to board her at Plymouth." 

We pricked up our ears. This meant another move this time to 
America. But could we go along? At eleven we had become vet 
eran diplomats, depending largely on our own wits to keep our 
selves from being shunted off to places where we were strange, 
unhappy, or alone. And the world of Papa and Mamma, with its 
secrets, its wars, and to us its irrational and unpredictable 
twists, was not easy to cope with. 

Then we heard Papa s voice rise; once again, it seemed, he was 
losing his patience. "I d loathe to ask for a transfer at a time like 
this," he said to Mamma, "a time when the world is in such chaos, 
and every conscientious diplomat is sticking to his post. You 
could have made it possible for me also to perform my duties 
properly, but no, Laura, oh, no, not you! Your arrogance, your 
instability, your wanton and utter disregard of my position and 
my wishes have forced me to make this trip." 

He paused for a moment. Then, in a quieter tone, he continued: 
"No one knows how long this bloody war is going to last. And 
how can I remain in a country to which my wife is not allowed 
to return where, in fact, she is even persona non grata? Don t 
you realize, damn it, that I want you and the children with me? 
Why, in heaven s name, did you have to enroll Consuelo and the 
twins in that school in Paris? Surely even you must realize that 
they would be safer here." 

"Now, let s not argue about that any more, Harry," Mamma 
answered. "I ve already told you that all the arrangements have 



been made. We leave for Paris Thursday. Besides, the twins have 
to improve their French; they re already speaking with a Swiss 


Gloria and I looked at each other; so this was it. We were 
being shipped to France. If we wanted to get to America, we 
had to do somethingand do it quickly. 

That night after dinner, when Papa was comfortably settled 
and smoking his cigar, we decided to attack. Together we threw 
our arms around him. "Oh, Papa," I said pleadingly, "can we 
go, too?" 

"Go? Go where?" 

"Why, to America, of course," Gloria said. "We heard you 
talking to Mamma about it this afternoon." 

Papa smiled. "I see," he said. "My twins have long ears. But 
the answer is no not at this time, darlings. The trip is much too 
dangerous." Then, noticing our look of disappointment, he 
pulled us close to him and tried to explain, "You know I d love 
to take you two to America with us, but this is no rime for 
children to be crossing the Atlantic. The ocean is heavily mined. 
Our ship might be blown up at any time." 

"Well, if you and Mamma are going to be blown up," Gloria 
said, "we want to be blown up with you." 

Hugging us, he said, "And what makes you think I could get 
accommodations for you? It s difficult in wartime, you know." 

"Oh yes, you can; you can do anything." 

"That s enough of this," Mamma interrupted* "The idea is 
preposterous. The answer is no, and that s final." 

Looking up at Papa, we howled, "You promised, you promised 
us. Please!" 

The hours passed and we got nowhere. The following night 
Papa returned to Hamburg. Even at the station we pleaded; but 
our last efforts were no more effective than our first. "No, dar 
lings, not this time," Papa repeated firmly from the steps of his 
train; then he was gone. 



Early the next morning I woke with an idea burning my brain. 
I had the solution; I had a plan. Trembling with excitement, I 
rushed over to Gloria s bed and shook her. "Wake up, Gloria!" 
I shouted. "Wake up! I ve got it! I ve got it!" 

"What s happened?" Gloria asked, still half asleep. "You ve 
got what?" 

"Gloria, wake up," I said, still shaking her. "We re going to 

The magic word "America" waked her like a glass of cold 
water thrown in her face. "America? Oh, Thelma, how? 

"Listen to me," I said, getting quickly down to business. "We 
are supposed to leave for Paris tomorrow morning. Well, this 
afternoon we are going to send a telegram to the American Con 
sulate at Rotterdam and sign Papa s name to it." 

Gloria was puzzled. She was delighted with my enthusiasm, 
but naturally I had not made very much sense. 

"What," she asked reasonably, "are we going to say in the 

"Simply this," I said. "I ve thought it all out: Secure accom 
modations for twin daughters of Consul General Harry Hays 
Morgan sailing on the SS. Amsterdam, September 4. Harry 
Morgan/" Then, with more confidence than I really felt, I 
added, "Papa won t hear about this until he gets to Rotterdam 
and gets on the ship, and we won t tell Mamma until we get to 

Gloria was too excited to argue. AH she said was, "Don t you 
think the telegram would sound more like Papa if we put a 
kindly before the secure ?" I agreed. 

At lunch Mamma asked us what we had planned for the after 
noon. Gloria looked at me. I noticed she had her fingers crossed. 
Crossing mine, I said innocently, "We thought we might go for 
a walk by the lake." 



"That will be nice." We breathed a sigh of relief. Suppose 
Mamma had made other plans for us? 

As we approached the telegraph office, our knees were shak 
ing. Suppose we were too young to send telegrams? Suppose we 
didn t have enough money? Suppose the clerk called Mamma to 
ask if it was all right? Realizing Gloria was thinking the same 
things, and more for courage than anything else, I grabbed 
Gloria s hand and rushed in. "After all, Gloria," I said, "the only 
thing Mamma can do to us is kill us." 

The next thing we knew we were out again on the street and 
the telegram was on its way. 

From the train windows, as we crossed into France, we saw 
the horrors of war for the first time. We saw whole villages and 
towns burned to the ground. The roads were thronged with 
homeless people. We passed factory after factory, now no more 
than tangled masses of girders and rubble. Trainloads of 
wounded rumbled past our car. On all sides we saw at firsthand 
the suffering, the tragedy, and the horrors an invading army can 
inflict on a country. 

Paris was far from the gay city Mamma had told us so much 
about. We saw a somber Paris, gray, a city enshrouded in a heavy 
stillness. Everywhere women were in mourning. Old men 
shuffled about aimlessly; here and there were young men, 
crippled, staring vacantly into space, pain and helplessness etched 
in their faces as in the faces of the men depicted by Goya in the 
"Horrors of War." Mamma had made reservations for us at the 
Hotel Regina, on the Rue de Rivoli. It was dark when we got to 
the hotel. We were all tired, depressed, hungry. 

"After dinner and a hot bath we will all feel better," Mamma 
said cheerfully, as we were shown to our rooms. "Then we ll all 
go to bed early. There is so much to do in the morning. I haven t 
much time, and I have to get the two of you and Consuelo ready 
for school." 

Gloria and I looked at each other, and our hearts sank. The 



time had come to tell Mamma. But how? Would she believe us? 
Would she be furious? Would she even take us? Or would she 
skin us alive? When we had planned what we were going to tell 
her, it had all seemed so easy. Now, faced with it, it was not easy 
at all. We were scared. "Here goes, Gloria," I whispered, and I 
took the plunge. 

"We re going to America, Mamma," I said gaily. "We re go 
ing to America, too. Surprise! Surprise!" 

"What are you talking about?" Mamma snapped. "What is 
the meaning of all this nonsense? Who said you could go?" 
"Papa did," Gloria said. 
"Your father did? How? When?" 

"Just before he left for Germany. It was to be a surprise for 
you and a birthday present for us. Isn t Papa wonderful?" 

Mamma stood there dumfounded, glaring at us. "I don t be 
lieve one word of this. I don t believe your father would do such 
a preposterous thing without telling me. He must be mad. Oh, 
no; I just don t believe it." 

Grabbing hold of us, she shook us both so violently we 
thought our heads would drop off. "Are you telling me the 
truth? Answer me." 

I wished I had never thought of this idea. I wished I could 
back out, but I was far too scared to think of what to say, "Yes, 
yes; it s true," I blabbered. "Papa said we could." 

Mamma let go of us abruptly. "I don t believe a word of it. 
You re lying to me. I m going to wire the Holland American 
Line at once and ask if your father has made reservations for you, 
and I hope for your sakes the answer is yes." Little did she know 
how fervently we hoped so, too. 

The next few days were agony for us. We lived in fear and 
terror of what the answer would be, and we managed to keep 
well out of Mamma s way. 

When we returned to the hotel one afternoon the desk clerk 
handed her a telegram. To our surprise, she did not open it at 



once. Instead, she walked deliberately to the elevator. Following 
behind, we wondered anxiously what our fate was to be. On the 
way up, tapping the telegram slowly against her gloved hand, 
she said, "Now, I ll know the truth, or whether you have been 
lying to me." 

We made a dash for our room. We didn t want to be in front 
of Mamma when the bomb exploded. 

"Oh, no, twins; no, you don t," Mamma said. "I want you here 
when I open this telegram. Sit down." 

She deliberately took off her hat, leisurely removed her gloves, 
took off her coat and carefully hung it in the cupboard We 

i front of you and I m going to read it aloud." We took a quick 
look at each other and held our breath. Then, as if from a dis 
tance, came the ominous words: " This is to confirm accom 
modations for daughters of Consul Morgan, S.S. New Amster 
dam sailing September 4 Holland American Line. Madre de 
Dios" Mamma shrieked; "it s true!" 

It was only then that we breathed again. At this point we even 
believed our own story. 

When Mamma got over her shock, she began one of her 
standard tirades against Papa: "So he thinks I m irresponsible and 
unstable? What does he think this madness is? At least I advise 
him of my plans, but not your father. He lets you tell me and 
calls it a surprise." 

To our utter amazement she then added, almost gaily, "Ah 
well, perhaps it s all for the best anyway." 

The only thing we remember in the hectic days that followed 
was the touch of remorse felt at leaving Consuelo alone in that 
terrible school Mamma had picked out for us. She looked so for 
lorn and frightened as she stood in the doorway waving good-by 
to us. Looking back on it now, we can t understand what pos 
sessed Mamma to leave Consuelo alone in Paris, with the German 


army pounding at the gates of the city. The rumbling of guns 
in the distance could be clearly heard the day we left. What was 
Mamma thinking about when she left a fourteen-year-old girl 
in a school she knew practically nothing about? We had no 
relatives in France; and Mamma s friends there had scattered at 
the outbreak of hostilities. We would like to think she did not 
realize the enormity of what she was doing. 

Our trip to Plymouth was uneventful. We landed at five in 
the morning. Later that morning, when we were on the tender 
taking us to the Ne<w Amsterdam, Mamma looked at us strangely. 
"What s the matter with you two?" she asked. "You look green. 
Don t tell me you re going to be sick even before we get on the 
ship." Little did she know how sick we were although not for 
the reasons she thought. 

"Why don t you take a walk up and down the deck?" Mamma 
suggested. "You ll feel belter." 

When Gloria and I were alone, I suddenly knew what we 
should do: confess. "Gloria," I said, "we ve got to tell Mamma 
everything before we see Papa. That s the only way we can save 

Gloria was skeptical. "Do you think Mamma will really help? 
Or will we just be getting ourselves double trouble?" 

"I don t know," I answered. "You can never tell what Mamma 
will do. We can only hope." 

We were nearly alongside the New Amsterdam when we got 
up enough courage to tell Mamma what we had done. "Papa 
didn t get the reservations," we said together, our words tum 
bling over one another. "Papa didn t do it. We did." We told 
her how we had sent the telegram; we told her how we had lied; 
we told her everything. 

"Oh, twins, how could you?" Mamma said, when the story 
finally made sense to her. "Your father is going to be furious. 
How could you think of doing such a thing? He s sure to think 
I plotted all this with you." 


We started crying. And then Mamma, whose ways could 
never be predicted, hugged us tight. "Don t be scared, queridas" 
she said, "I ll help you. Now stop crying." 

Papa met us at the gangplank, glaring at us. "Follow me, 
Laura," he said curdy. "And you, too, twins." Meekly we 
traipsed behind Mamma; there was nothing else to do. He led us 
to his cabin. Then, turning to A4amma, he said in a low, gentle, 
but extremely austere voice, "Well, Laura, perhaps now you will 
kindly explain." 

Before he could go on, Gloria and I indulged in an orgy of 
confession. We explained that we had engineered this trip all by 
ourselves. We told him the whole story larded with details, 
He looked at us, first with disbelief, then with amazement. 
Finally he smiled. "Well, I ll be damned," was all that he could 
say. But after the shock wore off, he seemed actually pleased. "I 
really should send you packing back to school," he added, "but 
if going to America means this much to you, you deserve to go. 
Bully for you!" 


America, Here We Are 


We had our first glimpse of our own country early on the 
morning of September 15, 1916, as the New Amsterdam sailed 
majestically into New York Harbor. We saw the Statue of 
Liberty and waved at it madly. A fog blanketed the lower part 
of the skyline, but we saw what were then the "tall" buildings, 
the giant of which was the Woolworth Building, jutting above 
the haze into puffy clouds just then turning pink in the refracted 
light of the rising sun. New York seemed to us to be a magical 
city, suspended in midair. 

Gloria and I rushed to find Papa. When we reached his cabin, 
he was surrounded by reporters. "Mr. Morgan," one asked, 
"what are conditions like in Germany?" "What do the Germans 
think of Americans?" asked another. "Do they believe President 
Wilson is working for peace?" 

Papa was evasive. But when we entered the cabin, his eyes 
brightened. "Here are my twins," he said to the reporters. 
"There s a story for you." 

We went back on deck; there were too many interesting 
things for us to see to waste our time listening to Papa s inter 
views. One of the reporters followed us. "Are you the Morgan 
twins?" he asked pleasantly. We acknowledged that we were. 
"Would you like to have your picture taken?" We agreed that 
we would. He focused his camera, made several shots, then asked 



us many questions, which we were only too delighted to answer, 
Here was a reporter, an American; and he was interested in us! 
We were flattered no end; we chattered like little sparrows, tell 
ing him everything he wanted to know. 

We went straight to the Knickerbocker Hotel. The next day 
Mr. Regan, the manager and an old friend of Papa s going back 
to the days when Papa was Consul in Lucerne joined us. "Pm 
sorry, Harry, I was not here to greet you," he said to Papa, "but 
I had a meeting and couldn t get away." He turned to Mamma. 
"Laura, you look wonderful." Then his eyes fell on us. "So these 
are your famous twins/ he said. "They certainly have grown up, 
and in real life they look even prettier than in their picture." 

Papa looked puzzled. "Their picture? What picture?" 

"Haven t you seen this morning s Herald?" Mr. Regan asked. 

"No," said Papa. "Why?" 

Mr. Regan sent for the Herald. And when it was spread out 
on the table, there on the front page was a picture of the two of 
us. Above it, in bold headlines, was the statement: "Morgan 
Twins Outwit Their Parents and Come to the United States." 
We were thrilled; there was our picturewithout any question. 
The story gave every detail with a few melodramatic additions 
of our escapade. 

Mamma turned on us accusingly, her face darkening. "Twins," 
she said, "did you give the reporters this story?" We started to 
tremble; here was trouble coming up again. No matter what we 
did, we started trouble. Sooner or later, we were sure, everything 
would tumble on our heads; up to now we had simply been 

But this time Papa came to our rescue. "Laura," he said, laugh 
ing, "don t blame the twins. I also talked to the reporters." 

Our first days in New York were spent sight-seeing and gap 
ing; we were really little European girls seeing the New World 
for the first time. Although by now we spoke three languages 
more or less fluently, we had never seen an Automat or an ani- 


mated electric sign; and we had never tasted an ice-cream soda. 
We proceeded at once to make up for these deficiencies. We 
dashed in and out of the Automat, dropping our nickels and 
collecting sandwiches from their niches behind the glass win 
dows; we hung for hours out of our hotel window staring at the 
signs that made Broadway the world-renowned "Great White 
Way." And we parked, like bar flies, at the soda fountain at 
Schrafft s, sampling the endless varieties of sundaes and milk 
shakes. But what we loved most of all was "Mr. Woolworth s 
Five-and-Dime Store." This was a bottomless maw into which 
we poured almost all of our pocket money. 

We learned to keep abreast of the news by looking from our 
hotel window at the flashing signs which moved across the side 
of the old Times Building, in the center of Times Square. This 
was an election year; and the night the returns came in we stood 
excitedly in our window watching the returns as they were 
flashed on the board state by state. Papa and Mamma had gone 
to a dinner party. They returned, shortly after midnight, and 
we heard Papa say, in tones of profound satisfaction, "Thank 
God, Hughes is in." Gloria and I stayed up, secretly, getting 
more and more excited as we found ourselves in possession of 
news as soon as it was flashed. Around two in the morning a 
great shout went up from the streets below. We looked at the 
board. California had just been heard from. Mr. Wilson was 
re-elected. We chuckled to ourselves, thinking of Papa and 
Mamma. Gloria giggled to me, "We know something they don t 

Soon after this Papa returned to Hamburg. And Mamma, true 
to form, once again deciding that we were poverty-stricken, 
moved with us from the Knickerbocker to a small and dingy 
hotel on the West Side. 

Mamma intended to put us in a convent; we were to be en 
rolled in Manhattanvill^ Convent of the Sacred Heart. But the 



United States had just declared war on Germany, and the war 
situation suddenly made all Mamma s planning indefinite; it also 
made Gloria and me acutely aware of the odd nature of our 
family. It was not merely that we were international gypsies, 
with no permanent home, no roots in any one city, or even a 
single country; we were an erratically scattered family. At this 
moment Harry was at school in Lausanne, Consuelo at school in 
Paris, Gloria and I were only temporarily in New York. No one 
knew exactly where Papa was; we had not heard from him in 
weeks. And Mamma was now making plans to gallivant off 
somewhere neither we nor she knew exactly where. When 
more time passed, and no word came from Papa, Mamma got 
desperate. Always suspicious of the Germans, she confessed to 
us one day that she believed he was in a prison camp. She put the 
blame on herself; the Germans were punishing Papa because of 
her many trips across the frontier. 

Leaving us alone in the hotel, Mamma went to Washington 
and badgered the already harassed State Department; where was 
Papa? The only thing she came back with was the frustrating 
information that the State Department had no knowledge of his 
whereabouts; all they could tell her was that Consul General 
Harry Hays Morgan was not with the Embassy staff which, 
by then, had been evacuated from Germany. 

As the days passed, with no news of Papa arriving from any 
quarter, Mamma grew more and more worried, more and more 
indignant at the Germans, more and more desperate. Finally she 
decided she would go alone to Europe and do her own investi 
gating. Again we were to be left alone; again the trip across the 
Atlantic was pronounced too dangerous for children. And again 
we begged to be taken along. We begged, we pleaded, we 
howled; we used every argument we could think of. This time 
it was Gloria who suddenly hit on a workable idea: she decided 
to attack Mamma s most vulnerable side her sentimentality. 
Although Mamma was scarcely what anyone would call a re- 


sponsible mother, she was more sensitive than a Chekhov charac 
ter to the overwhelming appeal of "mother love." 

"Remember, Mamma," Gloria said, slyly and tearfully, "if 
anything happens to you, we will be orphans." 

That did it. Mamma was convinced. We all sailed together on 
a small Spanish ship, the S.S. Alfonso XHL 

Although we had a distinguished passenger list on the Alfonso 
X//7, including the beautiful and spectacular Mary Garden, and 
Nijinsky and other members of the Imperial Russian Ballet, the 
ship was a depressing contrast to the luxurious New Amsterdam. 
We shared a small cabin with Mamma, whose berth was under 
the porthole; Gloria and I were stacked in double-decker bunks. 
I had the top bunk, which was only a few feet from the ceiling. 
In the middle of the night I felt something crawling on my face. 
Switching on the light, I made a horrible discovery: it was cock 
roaches. I screamed. 

Mamma s light immediately went on, then Gloria s. "What s 
the matter?" Gloria asked, in a panic. "Have we been tor 

"No," I yelled, "but I m crawling with cockroaches." 

Mamma, who had raised herself half out of her berth, now lay 
back on her pillow. "Is that all?" she said scornfully, as if to 
imply that I was trying to put on the airs of a princess. "Your 
father is probably rotting in a rat-infested prison, and you are 
complaining about a few harmless little bugs. Pull the sheet over 
your head and turn out the lights!" 

When we docked at Vigo, in Spain, we found, to our amaze 
ment, that Papa was standing at the gangplank, waiting to meet 
us. It seems that he had left Germany, after many delays, then 
gone to Lausanne to pick up Harry. He had brought Harry with 
him to Spain, where he had made reservations to return to 
America on the very ship that had brought us over. In Madrid 
he had had a cable from the Secretary of State, informing him 
that we had already sailedon the Alfonso XHL 



Mamma immediately went into one of her emotional turn 
abouts. All her pent-up anxieties were transformed into rage. She 
was furious at Papa; she bombarded him with insults; she 
stormed, she fumed, she turned purple; we thought she was even 
going to strike Papa. In his very quiet voice Papa countered with 
a simple fact: "Laura, come; Harry is waiting for us. We ll miss 
the train to Madrid." 

I don t know how or when Papa explained to Mamma exactly 
what had happened to him. But we have this account, which he 
left in his unpublished memoirs: 

Ambassador Gerard was handed his passport and left Berlin with 
his staff. The day before his departure he advised me at the Con 
sulate in Hamburg that a special train would be passing through 
Stuttgart at a certain hour, and if I so chose, I could join him. But 
there were many consular offices in outlying districts left to shift for 
themselves, so I did not take advantage of this offer. Only after 
all the consuls had been accounted and arranged for did I feel 
warranted in leaving with my own staff. When I demanded safe 
conduct from the Hamburg Foreign Office, much to my stunned 
amazement it was denied me. They told me that if it were left to 
their discretion, they would send me out of the country with due 
honor, but they said they had received instructions from the Prussian 
Foreign Office that I was to be held. I was virtually held a prisoner 
there for ten days before being allowed to depart. When I arrived at 
Munich, my staff and I and the ten consuls were taken off the train 
and detained for another ten days. They gave no reason for the 
detention. When I was allowed to leave, I proceeded to Lausanne. 

Once more we played our chaotic family game of transatlantic 
musical chairs. A few days after we arrived in Madrid, Papa and 
Harry returned to Vigo, to sail for America; Mamma, Gloria, 
and I went on to Paris. If any one in our family had any regard 
for safety, had even routine common sense, the fact was not 
reflected in our collective way of life. Paris had been under 
bombardment; the Germans had brought up their giant gun, 


"Big Bertha/ and had placed it within shelling distance of the 
city. Notre Dame had been shelled while it was filled with wor 
shipers, on Good Friday. Food was scarce; coal and oil were 
commodities only dimly remembered. And yet, all the while, 
Consuelo had been left at school in the city to perfect her 
French and survive any way she could. Mamma had been ter 
rified when a few weeks passed with no letter from Papa, but 
she had given little thought to her daughter, who had been left 
directly in the range of enemy guns. 

As soon as we had been settled at the Hotel Regina, we all 
went to see Consuelo. Gloria and I were startled when she 
entered the room. Consuelo looked like one who had survived 
a siege and was still in a state of shock. She was a skeleton; her 
eyes seemed enormous in her thin, haggard, frightened face. The 
slightest noise would make her jump. And she seemed to move 
in a trance. 

We have no idea what Mamma s thoughts were at that time, 
or whether she had the slightest feeling of guilt or remorse for 
having left Consuelo to suffer alone through those harrowing 
months. But at least she was moved to some sensible action: she 
took Consuelo out of school, and brought her back to the hotel 
with us. Meanwhile, Mamma put us all in day school in Paris. 
Now that Papa was safe, it seemed quite proper to Mamma that 
we should stay in the danger zone. 

A few months later Papa wrote that the State Department was 
sending him to Cuba (as a special agent representing the Food 
and Fuel Administration and the War Trade and Shipping 
Boards) to make a report on the unsettled conditions there. He 
urged Mamma to bring us all back to America. Mamma was 
irritated. "Doesn t your father realize," she said, "that it takes 
time to pack three children and travel miles yes, miles and 
cross the Atlantic, in wartime?" Eventually, however, we found 
ourselves on the Rochambeau, one of the smaller ships of the 
French Line. The other passengers, some twenty-five in all, 



consisted of French fliers who were to be instructors at Ameri 
can army aviation centers and a handful of Red Cross nurses 
going home on leave. 

Once more we slept on deck, using our life belts for pillows, 
and assuming that the ship would zigzag sufficiently to by-pass 
mines and dodge torpedoes. Two days before we were due to 
arrive in New York we went below to our cabin to dress for 
breakfast. Suddenly there was a loud explosion. The ship keeled. 
Mamma, Consuelo, Gloria, and I found ourselves piled in a 
heap on the floor. We all grabbed our life belts and one another, 
then made a dash for the deck. We found the other passengers 
assembled around the lifeboats, and the captain making a re 
assuring speech. A smoke cloud was settling around the ship. 
"We have been sideswiped by a torpedo," the captain explained. 
"There has been no great damage done, and with God s help and 
a little luck we ll get to New York under our own steam." 

When we limped into New York Harbor and up the Hudson 
River, we found that dozens of reporters were scurrying over 
the ship. One reporter spotted us. "My God," he said, "it s the 
Morgan twins! Now we have a real story." 

I don t remember what we told him, but by then we were 
seasoned chatterers. The next day our pictures were again on the 
front page; at twelve we had become standbys for the press. We 

were "news." 

There was no Papa waiting for us when we got off the ship. 
We looked for him at the gangplank; we looked for him on the 
dock; we looked for him under the letter "M" in the baggage 
areabut Papa was missing. "So like your father," Mamma 
sniffed. "He s gone to Cuba and left us here in New York alone." 

We all went in a cab to the old Waldorf-Astoria where Papa, 
although absent, had engaged rooms for us. The hotel was on 
Fifth Avenue, where the Empire State Building now stands. As 
I look back these many years, I remember it as an enormous 
brownstone building surviving from the late eighteen hundreds. 


The foyer and the many rooms which led off from it, decorated 
in Early Victorian, were overcrowded, overpowering. There 
were sofas and chairs resplendent in red plush velvet; tapestries 
hung on the walls; wherever you looked you saw classical statues 
holding electric-light fixtures. Every available niche was filled 
with a potted plant. Every column was of marble, and from each 
radiated the eternal four gilt brocaded chairs. The old Waldorf 
must have been magnificent in its day; but in the summer of 
1917 it had the quality of a flower pressed too long between the 
pages of a book; it was crumbling, faded, tired. Even we felt a 
little sad at the sight. Could it have spoken to us, I am sure it 
would have said, "Youth, be wary; don t look at me with such 
disdain; I, too, have had my day." 

No sooner were we comfortable in the Waldorf than Mamma 
decided to join Papa in Cuba. She sent Consuelo to her old 
friend, Mrs. George Jay Gould, in the Catskills, and she an 
nounced to us that we were to go to Manhattanville. We pleaded 
with her to take us to Cuba with her. Why couldn t we go? Why 
did we have to go to school in the middle of summer, when all 
other children were on vacation? But this time nothing we could 
say or do would change her mind; she had made all the arrange 
ments. We were to go to Manhattanville, the Convent of the 
Sacred Heart, and that was that. 

The fateful day arrived. On the way up in the taxi Mamma 
told us all about Manhattanville how nice it was, what a beau 
tiful place it was, how happy she had been there when she was a 
girl. We were skeptical. And as we neared Convent Avenue, our 
spirits sank lower and lower. "Please God," I said inwardly, 
"don t let it be another Strathalham House." When we turned 
into the driveway, however, we considered ourselves doomed: 
we saw an enormous, somber, brick building that looked more 
like a prison than a school. 

A sweet-faced nun answered our ring. "Why," she said 


sweetly, "these must be the twins. Please come in; Fll tell Rev 
erend Mother Dammen you re here." 

As she led us to what I think they called "the parlor," we 
noticed the stone floors, the statues of saints in niches, red night 
lights glowing at their feet. All of it had a strong, aesthetic 
appeal; all was so silent, so cool, so peaceful. 

We had not waited long before the door swung open. Rev 
erend Mother Dammen rushed into the room, her black habit 
and her rosary beads extended behind her like the tail of a comet. 
It was only later that we learned about Mother Dammen s way 
of locomotion: she never really walked she was always partially 
in flight, always in a hurry. 

"Mrs. Morgan," she said, greeting Mamma, "how nice to see 
you. You don t have to tell me these are the twins. I have never 
seen anything like it; they are actually identical!" 

Mother Dammen was middle-aged, a little on the plump side; 
she had bright, shiny eyes, red cheeks, and an endearing smile. 
And she was indescribably warm, sympathetic, understanding. 
We loved her from the moment she came into the room; and 
many were the times we were to return to her, in happiness or 
sorrow or for advice even long after we were married women. 

Sitting down, Mother Dammen took our hands in hers; hers 
were soft to our touch, and cool. Then she played the "twin" 
game with us. "Now let me see," she said. "Which is Gloria and 
which is Thelma?" 

We both curtsied. "I m Thelma," I said meekly* And Gloria 
added, "I m Gloria." 

Mother Dammen smiled. "That s all very well," she said, "but 
how am I going to tell you apart later?" Then she laughed. "Let s 
try something. Both of you run out of the room. Then come 
back one at a time. Let s see if I can tell you apart." 

We dashed out together. "Isn t she wonderful?" Gloria whis 
pered to me. We had been in so many schools, lived in so many 
places, and been in charge of so many women. But until now we 


had never known any woman who seemed really to love us; 
with Mother Dammen we knew this instinctively; she did. 

Gloria was the first to go back. I left the door open and 
watched; I was dying to see whether Mother Dammen would 
guess right. Gloria walked sedately across the long room and 
stood quietly in front of Mother Dammen. Then I heard Mother 
Dammen say, "It s Thelma." 

"No, it s not, it s not!" I shouted, running in and throwing my 
arms around her. 

Mother Dammen gently disentangled herself from my 
clutches. "Mrs. Morgan," she asked, very much amused, "how 
do you tell them apart?" 

"I don t often make mistakes," Mamma answered proudly, 
"but their father has a terrible time with them. He always makes 
a point of looking under their chins; that s the final test. Thelma 
has a scar she got roller-skatingwhen she was small. They 
knew I did not approve of these rough sports and had forbidden 
them, but Thelma disobeyed me." She looked at me with a 
forced smile. "You see, Mamma was right." 

Mother Dammen, I observed, looked at Mamma with surprise 
and only faintly disguised disapproval. 

"Reverend Mother," Mamma said, as she stood up, "I leave 
my twins in your hands." Then she was gone. 

Mother Dammen took us to meet some of our schoolmates. 
To our joy, we found that most of them were South Americans 
from Peru, Chile, and the Argentine. Because of the war and 
the distance of their homes they were in the same plight as we. 
"These are the Morgan twins," Reverend Mother said, introduc 
ing us. "They speak Spanish as well as you do." In no time 
we were all chattering together in high excitement; Gloria and 
I didn t even see Mother Dammen leave the room. 

We spent that Christmas with Margaret Power, one of our 
schoolmates. Margaret lived with her aunt, Mrs. Peter Larson, in 
a magnificent house on Fifth Avenue, facing the Metropolitan 



Museum. This house was fascinating to us; we found treasures 
in every part of it. There was a grand ballroom whose walk 
were covered with rare tapestries. There was a Louis XIV draw 
ing room whose floor was covered with an exquisite Savonnerie 
carpet; we imagined Madame de Maintenon holding her salon in 
a room like this. Aunt Nana, as Margaret called Mrs. Larson, was 
tall, her gestures were brisk, and her voice was loud. She loved 
jewelry, and she decked herself with it at the slightest excuse. 
But her heart was big. Having no children of her own, she 
spoiled Margaret, and there was nothing she and Margaret did 
not do to make us feel wanted and at home. It was well that they 
had the Anaconda copper millions behind them, for there were 
never two more generous and extravagant people. 

When the holidays were over, we returned to school to find 
a letter from Mamma saying Papa wanted us in Cuba for the 
summer. We ran down the hall to announce the news to Mother 
Dammen. She smiled as we entered her room. She knew in ad 
vance what we intended to say; we had forgotten that at the 
Convent all mail is opened and read before it is delivered. 

The years at Manhattanville passed quickly; we were happy. 
We spent the first summer with Papa and Mamma in Havana. 
This was our first visit to a tropical country, and we were fas 
cinated by all that we saw the palm trees, the bougainvillea 
that crawled up the walls of the pink stucco houses. El Morro 
Castle, and jai alai. We feasted on platanitos the bananas no 
bigger than your little finger and on mangoes, which would be 
thrown to us as we swam in the clear, warm water. And Gloria, 
at the age of fourteen, fell madly in love with Regino Truffin, a 
handsome boy not much older than herself. The romance was 
nipped in the bud when we returned to school. 

Shortly after the Armistice, Papa was appointed American 

Consul General at Brussels. This entitled us to a summer in 

Belgium. We didn t see much of Papa that summer; when we 

arrived in Belgium he had taken over the work of the Inter- Allied 



Commission on Industrial and Agricultural Reconstruction of 
Belgium, and was busy organizing relief measures and administer 
ing funds appropriated to rebuild devastated areas. In spite of 
this, we had an eventful time. We lived in a lovely house that 
belonged to the Countess Lidekerque, and had been used during 
the war as the headquarters of General von Bissing, German 
Occupation governor. Very often we drove with Albert, Papa s 
chauffeur, over the famous battlefields of Flanders. And we spent 
much time with Pierre, the old butler who had been with the 
Countess for more than thirty years, and who came with the 
house. He told us endless stories about the Occupation: how the 
Germans had removed from the house all the beautiful door 
knobs and ironwork, all the copper cooking utensils everything 
they could melt and use for the war effort. He also told us of the 
tiny newspaper, La Libre Belgique, which had been published by 
the underground; every morning, religiously, a copy was slipped 
under Von Bissing s door. 

We returned to Manhattanville that fall; this was to be our 
last year at the Convent. 

In May 1920 we had a letter from Mamma telling us that 
Consuelo was to be married the following month to Count Jean 
de Maupas, and that Margaret Power had been asked to be one 
of the bridesmaids. Mamma wanted us to sail with Margaret and 
Mrs. Larson. Naturally, we were excited; but what we didn t 
know at this time was that the marriage was not a love match; 
it was something Mamma had arranged. Poor Consuelo scarcely 
knew her future husband. 

Our crossing on the S.S. France was gala; all the gloom and 
tensions of our earlier trips seemed to be balanced by the excite 
ment we found in this. The world was in holiday mood. Thou 
sands who had never before thought of going to Europe now 
were headed for Paris. And the rich, whose extravagances had 
been curtailed by the war, were once again Paris bound: at last 
they could seek out their beloved Worth, Lanvin, and Poiret for 



clothes; Reboux and Maggy Rouff for hats; Revillon for furs. 
On the France every available berth was taken. Concerts, fancy- 
dress parties, dances were nightly entertainments; the ship s pool, 
which reached astronomical figures, was auctioned each evening 
to the highest bidder. The dining salons, glittering with lights 
and crowded with beautiful women, beautifully gowned, and 
with carefree, spendthrift men in black formality, reflected an 
era which is now long past, and whose glamour will perhaps not 
be seen again. 

Mamma s apartment at the Ritz, in Paris, was a madhouse 
when we arrived. Worth and his fitters were at work on Con 
suelo s bridal gown. Lady Duff Gordon and her fitters were at 
work on the bridesmaids dresses. There were salesmen from the 
Maison de Blanc solicitously discussing their wares. And in the 
center of this bustle, which could well have been staged in the 
market place of Marrakesh, Consuelo, being fitted to shoes, sat 
passively, staring into space. 

The night before the wedding Gloria and I were left very 
much to ourselves, and told to keep out of the way. Papa, 
Mamma, Consuelo, and Harry had dinner together in the apart 
ment upstairs. We were told to have ours alone in the restaurant 
on the Cambon side of the Ritz. With no one to hold us back, 
we ordered everything we liked best iced melon, cold lobster 
with mayonnaise, and, as a topper, strawberries with sour cream. 
A few hours later we felt violently ill. 

The following morning, when Mamma came to our room, I 
announced that we were not going to the wedding. "We re too 
sick," I explained. "We ll be sick all over the church." 

Mamma, in cold fury, had the maid pour bismuth down our 
throats. Then we were marched off to the ceremonies. 

Our first visit was to Consuelo. When we saw her, she was 

standing in the middle of the room, like a Christmas tree waiting 

for the final decorations. Her simple white satin gown was deftly 

draped and held at the hip by a pinned sheaf of calla lilies. 



From her head a Chantilly lace veil, over yards of tulle, hung 
loosely to the groundthe same veil that "dear grandmamma" 
had worn. Indifferently, like a well-coached Trilby, Consuelo 
allowed the fitters to put the finishing touches to her gown. Her 
face was pale and drawn. Her eyes listless, but quite dry, smiled 
at us as we hugged her and said formally, "Darling, you look 

We then went to the churchthe Roman Catholic Church of 
St. Pierre de Chaillot, one of the oldest and, to our minds, the 
loveliest in Paris. The High Mass, it seemed to us, would never 
end; and the smell of incense made us feel sick again. As we 
prayed, we inwardly added our regrets for the glut of straw 
berries and cream. We had, however, two confederates at the 
ceremony: Ivor O Conner, who later married our brother, 
Harry, and Margaret Power, Consuelo s other bridesmaid, knew 
of the delicate balance in our stomach. They looked at us sym 

The priest s sermon droned on interminably. The lecture was 
too much for a tall young man who rose and quietly slipped out 
of the church; this was Benjamin Thaw, then First Secretary of 
the American Embassy in Paris. He had been sent to represent 
Ambassador Herrick, who was then out of the city. How we 
wished we could have joined Benny Thaw! 

At sixteen we were living with Mamma and Papa in Brussels, 
and we were bored. Life in Belgium was dull by comparison 
with what we had come to know in America; and Gloria and I 
were anxious to get back. We were reasonably grown by now; 
at seventeen Consuelo had been married. We felt quite capable 
of taking care of ourselves. The question was: how to get 
Mamma and Papa to agree. We confided in Mamma and, to our 
surprise, Mamma, who always did the reverse of what was ex 
pected, connived with us to win Papa over. 

Soon after this Mamma went to Paris with Papa, and while 



there she managed to persuade him to do as we wanted. The 
success was announced to us by a legalistic letter which was sent 
to us by Papa; the letter seemed to be a cross between a contract 
and a sermon: 

Fm surprised to hear you should wish to leave us and go to 
America. I am reluctant to let you go alone. However, your mother 
has persuaded me. She tells me that you have made arrangements to 
stay with the Horters in Nutley. Providing you do this, I am willing 
to allow you two hundred dollars a month, which will have to 
suffice. I have arranged passage for you on the S.S. Zeeland. I am 
afraid, my dear twins, that new pastures are not always greener and 
it is likely Nutley may not come up to your expectations, so I won t 
be too surprised to see you back soon. 

Then followed a lot more fatherly advice. 

Agnes Horter had been one of our most intimate friends at 
the Convent. She was a couple of years older than we, dark, thin, 
tall, striking. She was quite moody, howeverat times moody to 
the point of melancholia. Her temperament was poles away from 
ours, but the difference seemed to establish an emotional balance; 
we loved her. We had kept up a steady correspondence with her 
after we moved to Brussels, and she had been urging us to come 
over and visit her in New Jersey. 

As soon as we had digested Papa s letter, we rushed to the 
Consulate to see that our passports were in order and to get funds 
and tickets. Then, after hasty packing, we were off. Mamma 
and Papa were still in Paris when we boarded the S.S. Zeeland. 

Mrs. Horter and Agnes met us at the pier. We were overjoyed 
at seeing them, and on the long drive to Nutley we talked over 
all the things we wanted to do; Gloria and I were overflowing 
with plans. Our spirits sank, however, when the car drew up to 
the Horter home. It was a dreary, gray wooden house, more or 
less, we soon observed, like every other house in Nutley and it 
symbolized for us a monotonous, funless, rigid life. Inside, how- 



ever, the house was warm and friendly; it had the quality of a 
place where there was much love. Mrs. Horter was the mother 
of twelve children; Agnes was the youngest. She took us grace 
fully under her wing; to a woman with a brood this large, two 
children more or less made very little difference. Agnes father, 
on the other hand, was a taciturn, unbending man, then nearing 
eighty. His one redeeming grace, in our eyes, was his love for 
poetry; ensconced in a rocking chair on the porch, for hours at 
a time he would read aloud to us from Shakespeare and Milton. 
Our fondness for poetry, we noticed, was shared by no other 
member of the Horter family. 

In a way, our emigration to Nutley was a rebuff to our fan 
tasies. Whatever else we were, we were not typical little Amer 
ican girls, enured to the routines of a typical American small 
town. We were little sophisticates. The Horters family life was 
as foreign to us as we were to it. Nutley, too, was alien: in cities 
where we had lived, people had their aperitifs at sidewalk cafes, 
but in Nutley the social set gathered each afternoon for ice 
cream sodas at the corner drugstore. We had graduated from 
the stage of our lives in which ice-cream sodas were treats; and 
the atmosphere of the corner drugstore seemed to us as hostile 
as it was dull. The first time Agnes took us with her to this 
Nutley institution we found ourselves, with our French clothes, 
our French-Spanish accents, and our European manners, re 
garded as the sensation of the town. But this was not the sensa 
tion for which we had planned; we wanted to be belles, not 

We had many friends in New York, but in Nutley we were 
in isolation. Although we had been invited to a number of parties 
in the city we had to decline most of them because the trek was 
too long and too inconvenient; and young men who might have 
taken us dining and dancing rebelled at the idea of escorting us 
back to Nutley in the dead of night. Gloria and I quickly con 
cluded that the hinterland of Jersey was not for us. We put our 



heads together, resumed our Machiavellian roles, and decided to 
intrigue our way to an apartment of our own in the city. 

One morning we took the train to New York, had a leisurely 
lunch at the Brevoort Hotel on lower Fifth Avenue, then began 
hatching our plans. We had been told that apartments in this area 
were more reasonable than uptown, and we assumed that sooner 
or later we should find one that we could afford. As we left the 
hotel, after lunch, we were undecided whether to turn right or 
left. The psychological pulls simultaneously in opposite direc 
tions caused us to look straight ahead. We were in the position 
of Buridan s ass who, finding himself midway between two bales 
of hay, remained motionless and starved. Our fate, however, was 
much happier. Directly facing us was a well-kept, brownstone- 
front house, No. 40 Fifth Avenue; and on it was the sign, 
"Apartment for Rent/ 

Gloria put her hand on my arm. "Could this be it?" 
"If it is," I said, "it s a miracle." 

We rang the bell. An elderly, gray-haired lady opened the 
door for us. We explained that we were interested in the apart 
ment. "I am Mrs. Travell," she said, taking us into the drawing 
room. "Are you young ladies looking for an apartment for your 
selves?" Her voice was kind. 

We introduced ourselves; then we unburdened ourselves. 
"Mrs. Travell," I said, "our big problem is to find an apartment 
in a private home. Our parents would never let us stay alone in 
New York otherwise." 

On the way upstairs Mrs. Travell told us she had a daughter 
only a little older than we were; she also told us that this was 
the first time she had planned to rent part of her house* She then 
showed us two charmingly furnished rooms on the top floor; 
with the rooms was a kitchenette. We were taken with the place 
at once. "Oh, please, Mrs. Travell," I said, "can t we have it?" 
Then as a sober afterthought I asked, "How much is it?" 


Mrs. Travell was amused by our mixed enthusiasm and fear. 
"One hundred and twenty-five dollars a month," she said. 

Gloria nodded at me approvingly. "Oh," I said, now too numb 
to think, "we ll take it." 

"Not so fast, please," Mrs. Travell said, trying to hold our 
enthusiasm in check. "I will write to your parents, if you want 
me to, and see, first, if this is all right with them." And then she 
added warmly, "I ll tell them that I will keep an eye on you." 
As we left, she told us she would hold the apartment until she 
received an answer from our family. 

That night, back in Nutley, we composed a masterpiece of a 
letter to Mamma. We painted the apartment in glowing terms, 
we eulogized Mrs. Travell, we begged her to persuade Papa to 
answer "Yes" and at once. 

Mamma s favorable letter and Mrs. TravelPs confirming note 
came simultaneously. We packed. And with fond good-bys and 
hugs and kisses to the Horters, we said our farewell to Nutley, 
New Jersey. 

On our way to our new home "Chez Nous," we called it 
we had our taxi driver stop at a florist s. We arrived at 40 Fifth 
Avenue armed with masses of varicolored flowers. We put the 
flowers in vases, rearranged the furniture, then sat down, ex 
hausted, to contemplate our holdings. For the first time in our 
lives we were our own masters. 



We Become Two 


In many ways the hectic life of the Roaring Twenties seems to 
have passed us by. Thelma and I tasted no bathtub gin. We 
found speakeasies and petting parties slightly distasteful. It 
amazed us when, even at the most fastidious debutante parties, 
we saw apparently demure girls retire to the powder room, 
remove their corsets, roll down their stockings, then rejoin their 
partners in the ballroom. On the other hand, we were extremely 
young; and while we were quite sophisticated in many ways, we 
were naive in others. We knew a great deal about places, very 
little about people. 

To us, now, it seems rather shocking that two girls of sixteen 
should have been permitted to live in New York alone. But then, 
either because of our naivet, or because of sheer dumbness, 
nothing about it seemed odd or unusual. We could have been 
highly criticized. But at the time such ideas never occurred to 
us; and, as far as we knew, they seem not to have occurred to 
others. Mamma probably by accident, and the nuns by plan, had 
instilled in us a strong sense of propriety. Affairs were to us 
unthinkable. We were extremely conventional "unconventional" 
girls; we wanted love, romance, marriage, children. We were 
highly romantic; but our conception of romance was strictly in 
accord with the standards that would bear the stamp of approval 
of any woman s magazine. 


Every Sunday we went to St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Catholic 
church on Park Avenue in the Eighties. We chose this particular 
church for two reasons: first, after church we could go to Mar 
garet Hennessy s across the street at 905 Park Avenue; Margaret 
gave charming Sunday buffet lunches for the younger set. Sec 
ond, we were sure it would please Mamma; she had told us St. 
Ignatius was also an ancestor of ours. 

Margaret was one of our best friends. We loved going to her 
place because she made us feel so at home and always had such 
a gay young crowd. We usually found there other friends, such 
as Peggy Stout, who married dashing Lawrence Copley Thaw 
and later divorced him; Jimmy and Dorothy Fargo, whose name 
is associated with Pony Express fame; the two daughters of Mrs. 
Richard T. Wilson, Marion and Louise; Juan Trippe, now presi 
dent of Pan-American Airways; the two Jimmys, Leary and 
O Gorman; and Margaret Power, who had introduced us to 
Margaret Hennessy. They were both from Montana; their 
families at one time jointly owned the Anaconda copper mines. 
After divorcing Jimmy Drumm, Margaret Power became the 
Countess of Carrick; we saw a lot of each other in London when 
Thelma was married to Viscount Furness. 

Our first fancy-dress party was given by the fabulous Cobina 
Wright at her home in New York. Society, the music world, the 
theater, were well represented. This party was not as grand and 
magnificent as her later and now famous "Circus Parties," but 
we all had a wonderful time. Thelma and I wore identical 
medieval page-boy costumes, our long hair tucked under black 
wigs. Ever since that night I have had a fondness for fancy-dress 
parties. My very first ball in Newport, after I married Reginald 
Vanderbilt, was fancy dress. 

We made a good friend at this party, Maury Paul, the original 
and unsurpassed "Cholly Knickerbocker" of the New York 
American. He was the social arbiter par excellence. He knew all 
and everything about anybody who was anybody, and printed 



it; he took us under his wing and dubbed us "The Magical 

It was not long after Cobina s party, where we had enjoyed 
ourselves so much, that Thelma and I recognized we preferred 
mature men to the boys of our own set* We had been by far the 
youngest at the party, but we seemed to fit in that adult picture. 
We felt more at home there than with our own teen-age group. 
In some strange way we seemed to have stepped from childhood 
into womanhood. We had no time or taste for adolescence. 

At a party given by the Chauncy Olcotts I met George Bro- 
kaw; he was very attractive tall, thin, and wiry. He looked 
older than his forty-odd years, perhaps because he took himself 
so seriously. He was an interesting companion and I enjoyed 
going out with him. I was surprised, however, when he asked me 
to the Bachelors Ball. Invitations to this event usually were sent 
out by a "bachelor" only to his best girl. 

"What s going on?" Thelma asked. "Can this be serious?" 

"I m just curious," I said, with affected boredom. "IVe never 
been to a Bachelors Ball." Naturally I d never been to a 
Bachelors Ball. 

After the ball, George became rather persistent. Hardly a day 
went by that he didn t ask me to go to this or that It came 
to such a point that when the phone rang, Thelma would say, "Bet 
you a new hat that s George," and it usually was. As time went 
on I realized that he was falling in love with me. Then came the 
night he asked me to marry him. I must admit I was flattered, 
for this would have been what Mamma s generation called a 
"brilliant marriage." But I had to tell him I was sorry; I liked 
him very much, but I was not in love with him. 

One of our pleasantest memories is of Mrs. William Randolph 
Hearst s corraling of debutantes to help her raise money for her 
then recently founded Milk Fund. Millicent Hearst, wife of the 
late owner and publisher of the many Hearst newspapers and 
magazines, has a charm which is a special form of beauty. She is 


petite and a dynamo. Her conversation is punctuated by a 
fascinating little giggle which is all her own. Only the other day 
we ran into her at Le Pavilion in New York; it seemed unbe 
lievable that so many years had passed, so little had she changed. 

I remember well the first Milk Fund committee meeting in her 
apartment on Riverside Drive, overlooking the Hudson. I don t 
know how she managed it she must have charmed the city 
fathers but when we afterward went out to collect donations, 
we had at our service an entire squad of motorcycle police. In 
chose days the police vehicles were equipped with sidecars; each 
of us was driven in a sidecar to her destination. We were thrilled. 
We considered this a novel and effective way of calling attention 
to our work and ultimately collecting donations. 

The nuns had taught us needlework and we were deft at it. 
Our limited funds pressed that talent into use. The rent for our 
little "Chez Nous" took a good slice of our income, leaving only 
$75.00 for food, clothes, and luxuries. We had, however, ideas 
and ingenuity; when we wanted new dresses, we bought some 
pretty but reasonable materials and whipped them up in our 
own inimitable style. Our creations, we maintain, were chic and 
attractive as well as practical. A bit of chiffon, for example, 
artfully wrapped into a turban, would turn into a smart hat. 
We had quite a wardrobe, for pennies. 

At Christmastime we made personal gifts for our friends. We 
made embroidered sachets and pincushions and those monstrous 
overdressed DuBarry dolls to place over the telephone dolls 
which we then thought too, too beautiful. Our gifts, completed 
and spread out on the table, looked extremely professional to us; 
we would stand back and admire our handiwork. 


Just after Christmas I was getting dressed to go to dinner and 
thinking to myself what a pity it was that Gloria wasn t coming 



with me; parties were always more fun for me when we were 
together. But she had promised to dine with George Brokaw. 

My partner at dinner was a good-looking, dark young man in 
his late twenties or early thirties. A small, narrow mustache gave 
him a rakish look. His dark brown eyes were bright and merry. 
I had noticed just before we sat down that he was not especially 
tall a pity, I thought; two or three inches more would have 
made him a moving-picture scout s dream. When he had been 
introduced to me I had not heard his name. I took a quick glance 
at the place card in front of him; it read James Vail Converse. 
Across the table, they called to him as "Junior." 

We seemed to hit it off from the start. His stories were fantastic; 
I didn t know whether to believe them or not. At one moment 
he was telling me he had just got back from hunting bear in the 
Northwest; the next, how he had walked out on one of the 
biggest brokerage firms in Wall Street, just because his many ab 
sences were questioned. I had a sneaking feeling that it was not he 
who had engineered the separation. Junior Converse s utter lack 
of responsibility, his flights of ideas, his want of honesty and 
uprightness were later to cause me many a heartache, but at this 
point my heart was doing flip-flops. I thought this man sitting 
next to me was charming, amusing, witty. I was still only sixteen, 
and enormously flattered by what I then considered an older 
man s attention. He was so different from the rah-rah, raccoon- 
skin boys I had been dancing with at debutante parties. He 
monopolized me through the entire dinner, and by the time 
coffee was served I was purring like a kitten. 

When he drove me home that night, he asked me to dinner 
and the theater the following night. If I liked, he added, we 
could go later to the Montmartre for supper. 

"I ve got the most wonderful thing to tell you/* I said breath 
lessly to Gloria, as soon as I got home and I had bounded up 
the stairs. "I ve met the man." In jerky, incoherent sentences I 
told her about Junior Converse. "And just think, darling," I 


added, "he asked me to dinner and theater tomorrow, and to 
go on to the Montmartre." 

Gloria seemed worried. "But darling," she asked seriously, 
"who is this Junior Converse?" 

"I don t know," I said, "and I don t care." 

Gloria was scarcely overjoyed. For some reason my exuber 
ance only stirred in her what I then considered unnecessary 
caution. "Do you think you should go alone to a night club?" 

"Oh, piffle!" I said. "Don t be a killjoy, Gloria." I was ter 
ribly disappointed to find that she was not sharing my excite 
ment; but I wished, later, that I had listened to her; I would 
have saved myself a lot of grief. 

I had never seen any place as glamorous as was the Mont 
martre the next night. I was enchanted by the effect of the dim 
lights, the lavish decor, and the seductive waltzes played by 
Emil Coleman s orchestra as Junior and I danced. I didn t know 
exactly what was happening to me, but something most certainly 
was happening. For the first rime I had the feeling of identity 
with a manthe strange sensation of being dual and being one. 
Whether or not this is the basis of love is a matter for psy 
chologists; but in the language of a sixteen-year-old I simply 
said to myself that my heart was not mine any longer. I re 
membered Longfellow s lines: "How beautiful is youth, how 
bright it gleams / With its illusions, aspirations, dreams." I soon 
was to go beyond Longfellow and to learn that youth is also 
easily deceived. 

As we sat at the table that night, Junior told me a little about 
himself: how he had married and divorced when young; how 
Nadine, his wife, had never understood or loved him; how he 
adored his little seven-year-old son, Petey. He told me all about 
the big deal he was about to put over. How many, many times I 
was to hear about those big deals that he was just about to "put 
over." I was also to find out that Nadine had loved him very 
much and had done everything in her power to help him. Junior 



went on to explain to me how he had lost most of his inheritance 
from his grandfather, Theodore N. Vail, on some oil deal he had 
been sure would make him a millionaire. 

All the inflated stories of deals, of repeated failures, semi- 
failures, semi-demi-failures, of a lost inheritance, of the classical 
wife "who never understood," should have warned me that I 
was facing a man of pathological fantasy. But at this instant, 
as the music played on softly and my eyes, half-closed, peered 
wistfully through a romantic haze, I could see only a dashing, 
adventurous, brilliant young man who was making my heart do 
queer things. 

From this time on we saw each other almost every day, and 
I begrudged the hours Junior s "big deals" kept him away from 
me. He fascinated me; and this fascination made me proof against 
the unfavorable things my friends reported to me about him. 
They told me he was unreliable, that he was temperamentally 
incapable of sticking to anything, that he drank to excess, that he 
flirted with every woman he met; but the more they said against 
him, the more I thought I loved him. 

One day Agnes Horter, who had stage aspirations, rushed up 
to our apartment and told us that Cosmopolitan Studios were 
casting for extras in a picture called The Young Diana; Marion 
Davies was the star. Here was a chance, we thought, to bolster 
our slim income: we would be actresses. We were worried, how 
ever, about what Papa and Mamma might say if they learned 
we had plunged into that unholy profession, the movies. On our 
way to the studios we decided to hide ourselves behind a stage 
name; we hit on the name "Rachel." Where that name came 
from we still do not know, although it was probably an uncon 
scious revival in our minds of the name of the great French 

At the studio we found some hundred and fifty other would- 
be actresses lined up in front of the casting director s office. The 


director was brusque; he glanced disapprovingly at the girl who 
stood at the head of the line, and barked, "too fat." 

"Thank goodness," Agnes whispered to us encouragingly, 
"we re all thin." 

When our turns came, he looked us up and down critically, 
then said crisply, "Go to wardrobe." 

We were horrified when the wardrobe mistress handed us a 
pair of tights and a wisp of chiffon. "What are we supposed to 
be?" I asked. 

"Northern Lights," she said. "Next." 

With much tugging, and a professional sacrifice of modesty, 
we got into our costumes. There was still the problem of shoes. 
We made another visit to the wardrobe woman. "No shoes," she 

Gingerly picking our way in bare feet through a tangle of 
electric wires, nails, and splinters, we reached the set. If we 
thought the trip to the set was hard on our feet, we were still 
innocents. The enormous stage was ankle deep in rough salt, 
representing snow. At the far end they had erected an enor 
mously high platform upon which was a golden throne. Stair 
cases led to it from either side. In the space under this structure 
we were to remain concealed until the director shouted "Ac 
tion!" then we were to flit in and out, up and down the stairs, 
rush around the set, and return to base. To make matters worse, 
wind makers, intended to ripple our chiffon costumes, only 
managed to blow salt and dust over us and into our eyes. 

After hours of rehearsing we were ready to drop. The salt 
bit into our bleeding feet, got into our hair; the klieg lights hurt 
our eyes; every muscle in our bodies ached. We were grateful to 
hear the director say, "Okay, girls, we ll make the next one a 

At this point an apparition appeared: Marion Davies. Her 
costume was snow white, laden with pearls and diamonds. At 
the shoulders was attached a long, wide inaribou train. Her enor- 



mous headdress was also made of maribou, and studded with 
jewels. She looked like a jewel-sprinkled powder puff. As she took 
her place on the throne, we thought we had never seen such a 
beautiful and glamorous woman. "All right, girls, back to the 
beginning/ This will be a take," the director shouted, and we 
wearily pitter-pattered back to what we by then called "The 
Black Hole of Calcutta." Waiting for our cue, we wondered 
how we could seem to be scintillating, flitting Northern Lights 
even one more rime. But the sound of music, the burst of lights, 
and the electrifying shouts, "Camera!" "Action!" catapulted us 
from our lair. 

When we opened our pay envelopes, we each had the mag 
nificent sum of twelve dollars and fifty cents. 

We got home just in time to dress for dinner; Hannibal de 
Mesa had asked us and Junior to dine with him at Sherry s, I 
was stiff when I got into the tub. My muscles ached and my eyes 

Gloria, Junior, Hannibal, and I hadn t been at Sherry s long 
when suddenly my eyes shut tight. I couldn t open them. I 
pressed the palms of my hands to the lids trying to ease the 
pressure and the pain. 

"What s wrong?" asked Junior. 

"I don t know," I said. "I can t open my eyes. They hurt 

By this time Gloria, too, was concerned. She led me to the 
powder room and helped me bathe my eyes with cold water* I 
still couldn t open them. "Come, darling," she said, "we ll take 
you home." 

I was terrified. Total blindness blacked out everything. I was 
glad when we got to our "Chez Nous" and heard Junior call his 
doctor. When the doctor finally arrived, he took one look at 
my eyes and said "Miss Morgan, are you in pictures? You have 
kliegeyes. " 

"Nonsense," I heard Junior say, "of course she s not in pic- 


tures. You must be mistaken, doctor." Gloria corrected him. 
Until then, we had kept our "careers" secret. 

The cure that was prescribed for me was almost worse than 
the malady. Every hour my eyelids were agonizingly pried open, 
and castor oil was dropped on the eyeballs. Junior came every 
day to hold my hand. He was kind and gentle, and extremely 
worried; I couldn t understand how people could have said such 
terrible things about him. 

It was only after the third day that I could see anything at all. 
Junior was with me when my sight came back. "Oh, Junior," I 
cried, half-hysterical from shock and fear, and overjoyed to 
discover that I could see again, "hold me tight, darling. I ve been 
so scared." 

Junior lovingly put his arms around me. "This is where you 
belong always, darling, always," he said, with excusable exag 
geration. And then he took aim with his heaviest artillery: "Will 
you marry me, Thelma?" 

The combination of happenings had created in me an emo 
tional state that left little doubt what the answer would be. 
"Yes," I said, and tears streamed down my cheeks. 

Soon after this we began to make wedding plans. "The first 
thing," Junior said sagely, "is to cable your parents for their con 
sent and blessing." My heart skipped a beat. "Consent?" "Bless 
ing?" In my excitement I had forgotten all about Papa and 
Mamma. Oh, God, I thought, they will never give their consent, 
much less blessing. I could already hear Mamma raging, "My 
daughter marry a divorced man? Never! " 

I got hysterical. I threw myself at Junior, who, I suddenly 
realized, actually knew very little about me. Between convulsive 
sobs I told him about Mamma; I told him about the Convent, 
and about Mamma s obsessive concern for the world and preach 
ments of "dear grandmamma." "Mamma," I said, "would never, 
never give her consent. Never! " 

"Don t cry so," Junior said, practically. "The solution is 


simple. We ll elope, and after it s all over, they won t be able to 
do a damn thing about it." 

Junior s scheme at the time seemed both romantic and simple. 
Later it was apparent that, romantic as it might be, it was any 
thing but simple. I was under age and needed my parents consent 
if I was to be married in New York State. Meanwhile, we made 
our wedding plans as enthusiastically as if no obstacle were in 
our way. We let Margaret Power into our secret, and she, darling 
that she was, lent me enough money to buy my wedding gown, 
and the few other things I would need for the honeymoon. The 
dress I was to be married ina periwinkle blue frock was made 
by Peggy Hoyt, as was the large picture hat that went with it. 
Meanwhile, Junior was doing frenetic research to locate a state 
where a sixteen-year-old girl had a legal right to give herself in 
marriage. Then one day he rushed in with his happy news. He 
had found the state Maryland. Looking back, it occurs to me 
that any competent lawyer could have given him this informa 
tion in five minutes, but for Junior the search was a production. 
Gloria, unable to see Junior through the rose-colored glasses 
I was wearing, was not overjoyed by Junior s solution to our 
problem, "Are you sure, dear," she asked, "that this is what you 
want? Why don t you wait a little get to know Junior better?" 
But I was not to be dissuaded; this was my moment, my great 
adventure, and I intended to make the most of it. 

One cold morning-it was February-Gloria, Agnes Horter, 
and I took the train to Washington. It had been arranged that 
we were to meet Junior and his best man, Ballard Moore, at the 
Shoreham Hotel. Ballard Moore and Eugene West, another 
friend of his, were to be Junior s witnesses; Gloria and Agnes 
were to be mine. We arrived at the hotel around noon. Junior 
had reserved a suite for us. I changed into my wedding gown, 
and we all set out for a little Baptist parsonage in Rockville, 
Maryland, a town not far from Washington. 
The parsonage was not exactly what I had dreamed of as a 


child, when I pictured myself walking down a church aisle in 
a beautiful white wedding gown, with yards and yards of 
billowing tulle flowing behind me. But I consoled myself by 
thinking of Consuelo s wedding; I saw in my mind her beautiful 
wedding and her sad, haggard face. And I said to myself that a 
wedding is more than protocol and stage settings. At least, I 
concluded, I am marrying the man I want to marry the man 
I love. 

But as I stood in front of the minister, the Reverend Rowland 
Wagner, I suddenly had doubts, and my knees began to shake. 
For the first time since I believed myself in love with Junior, I 
was frightened. After all, I asked myself, what did I really know 
about this man standing next to me this man I was solemnly 
promising to "love till death do you part"? What did I know of 
life? What did I know of anything? Then, before my fears had 
time to get the better of me, I heard the voice of the minister, as 
from a great distance, say solemnly, "I pronounce you man and 
wife." I was a married woman, and there was a reception waiting 
for us at the Chevy Chase Country Club. 

The next morning, as I stood on the observation platform of 
the Florida Special, waving good-by to Gloria, my sense of 
loneliness was overwhelming. For the first time since our birth 
Gloria and I were to be separated. And here was I, at sixteen, on 
my way to Palm Beach with a husband I scarcely knew, to begin 
a life I had as yet not stopped to imagine. 



We Become Four 


There were gaiety and laughter all about me as the merry little 
group waved good-by to Thelma and Junior when their train 
pulled out of the station, but there was no gaiety in my heart. 
I felt only a dull, detached sensation of bewilderment as I saw, 
through tear-filled eyes, Thelma waving me a kiss. It was not 
until Agnes and I were in our drawing room on the way back 
to New York that I felt the full impact of my separation from 
Thelma; its meaning then hit me like a tidal wave, and my tears 
fell unrestrained. We had always been together. We had shared 
our thoughts, our dreams. Our lives, which until now had seemed 
to be a single life, were for the first time divided; and each 
would acquire an identity and a history of its own. I felt, then, 
that I would never recover from the feeling that swept upon me 
the feeling of utter aloneness. I had realized, of course, that this 
separation was one day bound to come, but now that I was facing 
it, the fact was overwhelming. 

During the next few days I often wondered what Mamma and 
Papa would think of Thelma s elopement. I did not have long to 
wait to find out. I also learned, to my dismay, that Papa had 
made reservations for me on the S.S. Finland, and that I was to 
be aboard her at the appointed day, or else! With a heavy heart 
I closed "Chez Nous," said a tearful good-by to dear, kind, sweet 
Mrs. Travell, and sailed to Belgium. 



Brussels, the gay "little Paris" of Europe, as its inhabitants 
fondly call it, was anything but gay to me that lovely early 
spring. I was miserable without my twin. The familiar streets 
and places only reminded me the more of her. Shortly after my 
arrival I wrote Thelma, telling her I was going to ask Papa to let 
me come back to America if I could stay with her. "If I could?" 
How strange the words seemed to me as I wrote them! We who 
had never dreamed of using such words as "If it s convenient," 
"May I?" or "I hope you can," between us, now had to resort to 
such terms. But, young as I was, I realized that from now on 
we were two separate identities, and that it was not only our 
wishes and inclinations that mattered. From now on others 
would have to be considered in the pattern of our lives. 


The first two or three weeks of our honeymoon at the Ever 
glades Club in Palm Beach were golden. Junior and I were 
wined, dined, feted. I felt thoroughly possessed; and I enjoyed 
the possession. I would coo like a pouter pigeon whenever 1 
heard Junior say, with such pride, to his friends, "This is my 
wife." I was not what today I would consider a woman in love, 
but I was all that is implied by the cliche: a girl in love with love. 
To be wanted, to be loved, pampered, admired this was enough. 
That between us there was no deep understanding, no basic 
rapport, was not then important; a pleasant way of life some 
times passes as a reasonable facsimile for love. 

But as the weeks passed, my misgivings about the marriage 
took more definite form. Junior was drinking much more 
heavily. Our friends began to raise their eyebrows when we 
entered a room together, with Junior obviously not quite steady 
on his feet. But with the naive confidence of youth, I assumed 
that this drinking was no more than a honeymoon trait at most 
a part of the holiday mood. To myself I said, "He ll stop when 



we get back to New York." Youth is really the season of blind 
credulity. I went on believing blissfully that I would always be 
as happy as I imagined myself at that moment. 

In the latter part of April, Junior and I returned to New York 
and took an apartment on East Fifty-first Street. But his drinking 
got worse, not better; and in his drunken moments he was 
abusive. I was thoroughly frightened; this was to me a new kind 
of danger, one I had not come up against in the world I knew 
with Mamma and Papa. I did not know how to cope with it, 
and I was too proud to seek advice. 

Mamma s long-delayed letter, which I got on my arrival in 
New York, didn t help matters any. It was a short, peremptory 
note, stating that since I had made my own decision, and had not 
considered it necessary to advise her of my intended marriage, 
the only thing she could say was that she hoped we would be 
happy. I knew the moment I opened the envelope just what the 
tone of the letter would be. When Mamma was happy or pleased, 
her writing was careless. Words would run into one another. 
But when she was angry or displeased, her writing was a model 
of calligraphy; every word would be carefully, almost painstak 
ingly written, and all the significant words would be underlined. 
This was such a letter. I could almost hear her say, "Thelma has 
made her bed, now let her lie in it." 

Junior and I rarely dined at home. Life for us seemed to be a 
continuous, mad social whirl: Tuxedo Park, Saratoga, Belmont, 
Southampton. Junior set the pace, and I followed blindly. Occa 
sionally, however, I would protest. I would beg him to let up a 
little, to stay homeabove all, to stop drinking so much. Then 
he would snap at me. "After all, damn it," he would say, "my 
job as a broker demands that I see people. I have to circulate." 
And I would try to hint, tactfully, that the people he liked to 
"circulate" with were not always the kind I liked to be with, 
or the kind I would like to have in my house. Some were a little 
shady. All were very rich. All were the kind that carried enor- 



mous quantities of bills in their wallets. I began to hear, more 
over, that Junior was borrowing money from these "friends." 
The picture was not pleasant. 

In no accepted sense of the word was Junior "stable." He 
would change jobs at the drop of a hat. At one moment he would 
be wildly enthusiastic about one of his "big deals," the next 
moment he would be maudlin drunk. As a consequence we were 
on paper, at least either very rich or very poor; and it would 
have required a genius of an accountant to establish our credit 
rating on any given day. But whether we were rich or poor, 
Junior never believed in paying a bill. At times I would be afraid 
to open the mail. I still recall with horror those interminable bills 
on which were the red-printed words, heavily underlined: 
"Please Long Past Due." When I would approach him tearfully, 
and ask him to pay what he owed, he would take me in his arms 
and, like Gary Grant in one of his scoundrel roles, assure me that 
he was doing all this for me he wanted me to have everything 
in the world that was beautiful. At these moments I would tend 
to forget the heartaches and the worries of the past months; I 
appreciated his desire for me to have everything that was beau 
tiful in the world I only wanted him to have, in addition, the 
desire and ability to pay for it. 

One day it became clear that I was going to have a baby. I 
was overjoyed; I believed then, as most young girls do, that having 
a baby is tantamount to owning Aladdin s lamp. A baby is by 
nature magical; it is the culmination of love; it fulfills all the 
hopes and longings of a lifetime; its mere existence is a guarantee 
of happiness. I was certain, now, that Junior would change. But 
when I told him about the baby, expecting him to become 
radiant, as I was, with pride and excitement, I found, instead, 
that his face dropped. He was not looking for competition; he 
was not looking for responsibility; he didn t want the baby. I 
covered my face with my hands, to hide the agony in my eyes. 

"Oh, come now, dear," he said, lying politely, "of course I 



want the baby." But it was obvious that his words were intended, 
if not as gallantry, at best as a device to prevent my making a 
scene. I went to my room and cried. 

A few days later I got a letter from Gloria saying she was 
coming to visit me. This was wonderful news; I had missed her 
enormously during the months of my marriage. And there was 
no one in the world whom I needed at this time more than Gloria. 
But now that I knew she was coming, I was a little frightened. 
How could I tell her what was going on in my mind? I was 
supposedly mature, now, with divided loyalties. How could I 
tell her about Junior s extraordinary behavior towards me? My 
foolish pride made it hard for me to tell her that her suspicions 
had been well founded, that, after a few short months, my 
marriage was a failure. 

But all my fears in this connection were as foolish as my 
imagined pride. Gloria and I have always had a kind of psychic 
rapport; our thoughts seemed to move from one to the other 
with telepathic certainty. When I met Gloria at the dock, I 
didn t have to tell her anything: she knew. 

Gloria had gone away for the weekend, Junior was out, Elise, 
Gloria s maid, had gone out shopping. I was alone in the house 
that hot August day. I found it difficult to breathe and decided 
to go out for a short walk on the Avenue. I felt miserable and 
depressed as I put my hat on and started for the door. As I got 
out on the stoop, I don t know whether I was dazzled by the 
bright sunlight after the dark room with its shades down, but 
I missed a step and fell headlong into the street* A crowd soon 
gathered. Somebody said, "Get an ambulance." 

"Please, please, don t get an ambulance!" I heard myself say. 
"If somebody will just carry me into the house, Fll be all right. 
I live here." 

A policeman had arrived by this time. He carried me upstairs 


and placed me on the sofa in the drawing room. "I d better call 
for a doctor," he said, realizing my condition. 

"Yes, yes, of course; Dr. MacPherson," I said, giving him the 
telephone number. I hope I thanked that policeman. I don t 
remember now. The only thing I remember is that I was in great 
pain and that he, sitting next to me, was saying gently every now 
and then, "There, there; the doctor will be here soon." 

I don t know how long it took Dr. MacPherson to arrive, but 
it seemed an eternity to me. After he had examined me, he told 
me I would have to go to the hospital at once. He was afraid I 
was going to lose my baby. 

Dr. MacPherson did all he could, but I lost the baby early the 
next morning. Junior had come to the Flower Hospital the pre 
vious night, but I had refused to see him. In some ridiculous way 
I blamed him for my accident. Of course he had nothing to do 
with it, but in my sorrow and agony I thought his not wanting 
the baby was the cause, directly or indirectly, of my miscarriage. 
I was terribly ill. Gloria sat at my bedside hour after hour, hold 
ing my hand. If it hadn t been for not wanting to leave her 
behind, I would not have cared if then and there I had died. 

My husband came into my room the second day. I noticed 
he was a little drunk. He had a silly, inane look on his face. 

"Well, darling, you look fine," he said jovially. "It won t be 
long before you re up and about again." With a sheepish smile, 
he informed me he was going to Saratoga that afternoon for a 
few days racing, but would be back in time to take me home. 
I lay there facing him quietly, and all of a sudden I felt a com 
plete indifference to him; I didn t care where he went, why he 
went, or if he went at all. He had become a complete stranger 
to me. Nothing is deader than a dead love. 

When I got back from the hospital, my married life with 
Junior was over. We went out together. I was polite to him, but 
distant; he was distant but not always polite. The newspaper 



columns started to hint at a rift between the "young, beautiful 
Mrs. Converse and her husband, Junior," 

One day Junior asked me to arrange a dinner dance at the 
Beaux Arts on West Fortieth Street; he had some important 
customers he wanted to entertain. 


It was the night of Junior s dinner dance that I saw Thelma 
really angry with me for the first time. She was anxious to have 
everything perfect and had gone to infinite trouble about it. 
"Everything must be just right, Gloria," she told me the day 
before the party. "It s not a big party, I know, but I do want it 
to be a success. This morning I saw the maitre d hotei, the chef, 
and the florist, and they promised me that everything would be 
perfect. Now it s up to Junior to get the liquid refreshments. I 
hope he picks out a good bootlegger. It would be terrible if 
anything went wrong in that direction." 

The afternoon of Thelma s party I had promised to go to a 
the dansant at the Plaza Hotel with Jack Addams. 

"Please, Gloria, be in good time to dress for dinner," Thelma 
said. "Promise me you won t be late." 

The Plaza was crowded that day. We saw friends at tables on 
all sides of us. And time passed quickly. Jack and I danced, we 
talked, we table-hopped. Suddenly I looked at my watch. It 
was almost seven, and Thelma, who was already on edge because 
of Junior, was waiting for me; I had promised to be at her dinner 
on time. 

When we got outside, we discovered to my horror that there 
was a small blizzard blowing. No taxis were to be had; we had 
to walk to Thelma s, no matter how long it would take us. The 
snow was falling in heavy whirlings; the wind on Fifty-ninth 
Street lashed around our legs; it was difficult even to stand. 

I reached home freezing. Thelma, ready to leave, was mad. 


"Darling, I m so sorry!" I said lamely, "but it s snowing; we 
couldn t get here earlier." 

Thelma s thoughts, I knew, were on Junior, not me; she was 
tense because of him; she was understandably worried about the 
party. Anything might go wrong; Junior, for example, might get 
insulting, or dead drunk, or both. But for the moment her resent 
ment was turned on me. "I have noticed it s snowing," she said 
curtly. "Now please don t waste time. As soon as the car drops 
us, I ll send it back for you." 

I hoped Thelma would quickly get over being angry with me; 
I didn t want to add to her worries. Junior, even in my presence, 
had been unmanageable. Only a few afternoons before, when I 
was in the apartment, he had come home reeling drunk. Thelma, 
in despair, had blurted, "Oh Junior, not again! not so early in 
the afternoon!" 

Junior had staggered to the side of the door, glared at the two 
of us through bleary eyes, then rubbed his eyes, no doubt to 
make sure he was not seeing double. "Thelma," he mumbled, 
almost incoherently, "what are you doing sitting there in the 
middle of the night?" If a stranger had wandered in at that 
moment, he might have assumed that we were rehearsing some 
twins-and-a-drunk routine for a skit. 

When Thelma pointed out to Junior that this was the middle 
of the afternoonnot the night his only comment was, "Aw, 
the hell with you! you re always nagging." Then he staggered 
out of the apartment. Thelma had cried bitterly after that, and 
asked me what I thought she should do. And I had suggested that 
she visit Papa and Mamma in Brussels for a while. "Things might 
be different when you get back." 

Perhaps I did not know my twin as well as I thought I did, 
for as I entered the room at the Beaux Arts she came up to me 
and put her arm around my waist. "Darling, you look ravishing, 
and believe it or not, you are not the last to arrive. The storm 
must be getting worse." Then pointing across the room, she 



added, "You see that table over there, the one Angie Duke is 
sitting at? That s your table. I think you know most of the people 
there. If you don t, just introduce yourself." 

As I walked over, I saw Angie Duke talking to a pretty girl 
whose name I don t remember. She was a typical product of the 
Twenties. She affected the thin, flat-chested look then in style. 
The "flat look"-which was exciting only to teachers of plane 
geometry-was achieved with a band of silk pulled tightly across 
the bosom and hooked in back. As far as the effect was con 
cerned, the band might just as well have been a tight strip of 
adhesive tape. 

This girl, like the others, also displayed what was then called 
the "debutante slouch." Her tummy was thrown forward, her 
back well arched, one hand perched on her hip, while the other 
manipulated an almost foot-long cigarette holder. I believe Irene 
Castle was responsible for this composite slouch-and-plane style, 
but somehow it was becoming to her. Irene Castle was always 
glamorous and graceful, but the style made most debutantes look 
ridiculous. Thelma and I let our bosoms and waists remain where 
God placed them. 

As I approached the table, a man I had never seen before got 
up. Turning to Angie, he said, "Don t tell me, Angie. This beau 
tiful girl must be Thelma s twin sister. I ve never seen two people 
so much alike." Then he introduced himself. "I m Reggie Van- 
derbilt," he said. 

I sat down, pleased with the compliment. Reggie talked easily 
and warmly in a low voice. I liked him at once. He complimented 
me on my dress, which was green, but which to him in the dim 
light of the room looked gray, and he took it as an auspicious sign 
that at our first meeting I should be wearing his horse-show 
colors gray and white. I was soon to learn that horses were an 
essential part of his life; and although every horse was Greek to 
me, I pretended to be enormously interested. I listened politely 
while he told me about his champion stallion, Fortitude, and 


despite my total unconcern for horses his talk fascinated me. 
Perhaps the truth is that he fascinated me, not the talk; but the 
one was a function of the other. 

Reggie had a high, arched nose which was set off by thin, 
small, sensitive nostrils; I thought it a perfect nose. His blue-gray 
eyes were set far apart; they were gay eyes which fixed them 
selves on you, and made you, by identification, feel gay. His 
mouth was his only bad feature: it tended, in repose, to droop at 
the corners. Reggie was a good deal older than I, but to me that 
was part of his attraction. 

After we had talked a long while, he asked me to dance. 
"Would you mind very much if we don t just yet?" I said. "I ve 
been dashing all day, and Fm starved." I felt instinctively that he 
was only asking out of politeness, that he would much rather not. 

I could almost hear his sigh of relief. It was only later that I 
learned that he abhorred dancing; he only got up on the floor 
when there was no way to avoid it. We were getting along 

"What a bore you must think I am," Reggie said later. "Fve 
been talking your ear off , and I haven t given you a chance to 
say a word. But promise me you ll let me take you out to see 
Fortitude one day, then you ll see why Fm so proud." 

I told him I d love to see Fortitude with him; and to my 
delight he answered with the quaint exclamation I had associated 
only with Papa: "Bully," he said. 

I glanced back and saw Thelma. She also seemed to be having 
a good time. She was laughing with a group of friends Mrs. 
Richard Wilson, who had been so kind to us when we first came 
to America; Hannibal de Mesa; Margaret Power of our Convent 
days; Will Stewart; Peggy Watson, who later married the Due 
de Nemours; and a few others. I looked for Junior. He caught 
my eye and waved. "Thank God," I thought, "he s sober." 

Hannibal de Mesa left Thelma and came over to ask me to 



dance. As we tangoed, he said teasingly, "Well, Gloria, I see 
you have charmed the most eligible bachelor in town." 

The party broke up just a little before dawn. For Thelma it 
had been a success; for me a great success. The last stragglers: 
Jimmy O Gorman, Angie Duke, Peggy Watson, Reggie, Junior, 
Thelma, and I went downstairs, joking, chattering, laughing, to 
ours cars. Someone suggested driving over to Childs for an early 
breakfast, but Thelma and I begged off . 

As we reached the street, we found that my baby blizzard had 
turned into a real, honest-to-goodness blizzard. There must have 
been at least seven inches of snow on the ground. Waiting for 
our cars, I heard the sound of jingle bells. I turned around and, 
sure enough, coming down the street was a sleigh. The clip-clop 
of the horses hoofs, the tinkle of the harness bells, the pure white 
snow made such an entrancing picture that, like a child, I 
clapped my hands. Turning to the man standing next to me I 
said, "Oh, look, a troika! We are in Russia," and found myself 
looking into the laughing eyes of Reggie Vanderbik. 

I felt like such a fool. All night I had, or thought I had, be 
haved like a woman of the world, and here I was in front of, 
of all people, Reggie Vanderbik, clapping my hands like a 

With a little squeeze of my arm as he helped me into the car, 
he asked, "If the snow holds out, will you go for a sleigh ride in 
my troika?" 

"Any time," I said. 

Thelma had finally left Junior, and was staying at the Waldorf. 
The following day she was to sail to join Papa and Mamma in 
Brussels. Her room was in confusion; suitcases were on the 
floor, on the chairs, on the bed, and I was doing my best to help 
her get them closed. Suddenly the phone rang. I answered. "Is 
Gloria there?" I heard an unfamiliar voice ask. "This is Helen." 
Helen who? 

Our father, Harry Hays Morgan 


Left to right, front: Our grandmother; our grandfather, General Judson 
Kilpatrick; Great Grandmamma; our great uncle, General Vickers; and 
his wife. Back: Aunt Rosa Blanca, Aunt Blanca Rosa, and Aunt Amelia. 
Taken at Santiago, Chile. 

Double exposure 

Little Gloria and her mother 

Little Gloria and her father 

Little Gloria in front of The Breakers 

Her grandmother, Mrs. Vanderbilt, the mistress of The Breakers 

Thelma in Hollywood: "An eyeful of mascara, a la Theda Bara" 

Thelma, Tony, and Duke 

Burrough Court 

Averill and the zebra and Andrew Rattray 

The Prince of Wales at the Fort 

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The Prince of Wales, Thelma, 
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Part of Thelma s Christmas shopping list for the staff at the Fort 

Fricdel Hohenlohe 

Margarita and Fricdel with their 
first son 

Entrance to Schloss Langenburg, rhc ancestral castle of the 

Young Gloria at sixteen 

Phyje Look Magazine Photo 

Young Gloria s wedding to Pat De 
Cicco. Her mother is wearing her 
own wedding dress. 

Gloria with Elizabeth Wann, a faithful friend 

Thelma and Edmund Lowe 


Photograph by Walter Bird 


Photograph by Vandyk 

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Our sister, Consuelo, painted by Clemente del Camino 


Gloria in the forties 

Thclma in the forties 

Dmolhy Wilding 


It turned out that the call was from Helen Beadleson, whom 
I had met several times but certainly did not know well. I was 
surprised that she had called me t and I was doubly surprised 
when she asked me if I could dine with her that night and go 
to the theater. "There will be only four of us," she said, and then 
added what I assume she felt was necessary encouragement, It s 
a big first night" 

I hesitated. I was torn between a desire to go and the feeling 
that I should stay with Thelma during her last night here. I 
decided to go. 

As I entered her drawing room, Helen, looking very chic, as 
though she had just stepped out of Vogue, in a simple black 
velvet dress, was talking animatedly with two attractive men: 
Reggie Vanderbilt and his best friend, Julian Little. Reggie 
looked up. "Oh, the troika girl," he said teasingly. "Hello, 

Surprised, Helen said, "Oh, so you two have met before." 

During dinner Reggie directed most of his talk to me. He sat 
next to me at the theater. And, putting two and two together, 
I decided that Reggie had taken a liking to me. I hoped this was 
so, for this second meeting confirmed the impression I had of 
him at Thelma s dinner. I liked him; I liked his worldliness; I 
liked his combination of charm and relaxed ease. My feeling 
about him was largely intuitive; it seems absurd, now, to say that 
I was taken with his seriousness, when so much of his conversa 
tion hinged around his horses and the social trivia which made 
up the day-to-day world Thelma and I then knew; yet my re 
action was emotionally sound. Reggie was a mature, thoughtful, 
thoroughly civilized man; I had not known his kind before, and 
he fascinated me. 

At intermission time he drew me aside. "Gloria," he said, "after 
the show let s chuck the others and go night-clubbing." The 
suggestion was tempting; if my conscience had not already been 
burdened by my desertion of Thelma, there would have been 



nothing that would have pleased me more. I explained that 
Thelma was sailing the next morning on the Lapland and that 
I really should get back. Reggie was understanding. "Til be down 
to see her off, too," he said. 

Thekna s cabin, the next day, was crowded with friends. Her 
sailing had developed into an impromptu party. Thelma was de 
pressed, but she hid her feelings with the skill of an actress. I 
looked around for Reggie. Although the cabin and the passage 
way leading to it were thronged with our friends, Reggie was 
not to be seen. Absently I picked a grape from a large, luscious 
steamer basket that had been set on Thelma s berth. Picking up 
the card, I read, "Bon F0ytfg<?-Reggie." He had sent a gift, but 
had not come himself. I was disappointed. 

When the first call of "All visitors ashore" was heard, I 
quickly kissed Thelma and whispered that I was taking French 
leave. I was not up to the strain of maintaining appearances in 
front of kind friends; parting from Thelma was always like 
losing part of myself. Even now, when Thelma is away, I find 
myself stopping in the middle of a sentence, expecting her to 
finish it or at least to supply the precise words for what I have 
only partially framed in my mind. 

At that moment I felt very sorry for myself. I felt lost without 
Thelma, and it seemed ridiculous to me that I had not sailed with 
her. I decided that a change of scene would do me good; I had 
been invited by the Figueroas to visit them in Cuba, and all of a 
sudden I was eagerly looking forward to the trip. 

At loose ends, I went back to my room in the Waldorf. There, 
to my surprise, was a huge box of flowers. I started to open it. 
Just then the telephone rang. "Gloria, this is Reggie. I m so 
sorry." Reggie spluttered a long, disjointed explanation for his 
not appearing that morning something about Norton, his valet, 
not calling him in time, and about getting down to the ship only 
to find me gone. Finally he said, "Darling, just to show me I m 
forgiven, please have lunch with me. I don t care how many 


engagements you have to break break them all. I ll pick you up 
in ten minutes." Then he slammed down the receiver. 

"Well!" I said aloud. "When this Reggie Vanderbilt wants 
something, there s no doubt about it, he wants it; and, what s 
more, he probably gets it." 

We had lunch at the Ritz Grill. I told him all about Thelma s 
reasons for her trip to Europe. He was sorry about the breakup, 
he said; he liked both Thelma and Junior so much. I then told 
him I was leaving the following week to visit the Figueroas in 
Cuba. And I was startled when he interrupted, saying, "Must 
you go? Can t you put it off?" 

My face must have revealed my astonishment. Reggie an 
swered his own question. Somewhat glumly he said, "No, I guess 

The next few days were packed with excitement. Reggie gave 
me what in those days was called a "rush"; we lunched together 
each day; we dined together each night; we went together to 
parties, to the theater. Naturally I was thrilled and flattered, and 
the world seemed full and beautiful. But then, in the rare mo 
ments when I was alone, disturbing thoughts began creeping into 
my mind. I realized I was falling in love with Reggie, and the 
banal, but nevertheless significant question posed itself to me: 
To what was all this leading? 

The morning of the fourth day Reggie called and suggested 
we drive up the Hudson to lunch at a roadside inn he knew 
about. I was delighted. The pace Reggie had been setting for me 
was wearing, and the prospect of a quiet drive to the country 
sounded like heaven. He picked me up around eleven in his car, 
which I observed was finished in gray and white, his horse-show 
colors. It was a crisp February day; I snuggled into the seat, and 
Reggie solicitously tucked a warm opossum rug around me. 

For a long time neither of us said much; we both, for some 
reason, were in a reflective mood. There was a bright sun shin 
ing, the Hudson sparkled, and the brisk, clear air was to me as 


heady as champagne. I was happy, sitting next to Reggie, and I 
realized that I enjoyed just being close to him. I tried to analyze 
my thoughts. I was certain now that I was in love-deeply in 
love. Reggie must have sensed my thoughts, for suddenly he 
broke into my reveries, saying, "I hope the items in the gossip 
columns are not upsetting you too much. Those idiots with their 
meddling can surely ruin things." 

The enchanting day passed, and Reggie had me back at the 
hotel in time to change for dinner and the theater. I chose one of 
my prettiest dresses and dressed quickly in happy anticipation of 
seeing the current hit The Music Box Revue. 

In this fabulous period the theater was at its peak of popularity 
and gkmour. There were many, many openings in a season and 
each was a glittering occasion. Everyone dressed. The few who 
were not in evening clothes looked out of place in the dazzling 
assemblage. Even before the curtain went up, you were aware 
of the excitement that pulsed in the audience, of the atmosphere 
of exhilaration. The audiences were a melange of artists, the 
demimonde, intelligentsia, westerners who had struck it rich, 
gamblers, politicians, and "society* all enjoying enjoyment. It 
seems rather a pity to me that today there are so few occasions 
like thesewhen women dressed and looked their prettiest, and 
their escorts dressed and looked their handsomest. 

Those were the days of extravaganzas and spectacles, and in 
these areas the Ziegfeld Follies and George White s Scandals 
have never been surpassed. The productions provided a com 
bination of lavish, extravagant costumes; superb sets; the lilting 
music of Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern; and outstanding talent, 
as well as ravishingly beautiful show girls such as Peggy Hopkins 
Joyce, Lilyan Tashman, and Olive Thomas. Dolores, who was 
known only by this single name, was to my mind the queen of 
all the beauties; she had an exquisite face and a perfect body. I 
still remember a fabulous costume she wore in one of the Follies, 
when the Follies were still staged on the Ziegfeld roof; it was 


patterned after a white peacock, and was heavily embroidered in 
pearls and rhinestones; the costume was said to have cost a for 
tune. The peacock symbolism was directly in line with Dolores 
personality; she herself strutted like a peacock. At the end of 
the tableau, with a grand flourish and fanfare accenting her 
movements, she would turn majestically, and the be jeweled tail 
would rise and spread out behind her as a spectacular and breath 
taking finale. 

The theatrical productions reflected the luxury, indulgence, 
elegance, and profligate spending of those postwar, speakeasy 
days. Pleasure and entertainment were never more prized, nor 
sought after with less restraint. And it was against this feverish 
background that, in a few short days, my romance with Reggie 

It seemed altogether in keeping with the pace, the excitement, 
and the mood of the time that at the Colony restaurant, after the 
theater, Reggie asked me to marry him. 

We decided to ask Maury Paul to dine with us the following 
night. He would be the best person to advise us how to handle 
the press, which we knew would descend on us like an avalanche. 
Ever since his divorce a few years before Reggie had been the 
target of every columnist and gossip writer in town. You could 
scarcely pick up a newspaper without reading, "Reggie Vander- 
bilt, the gay, debonair bachelor, was seen doing such-and-such." 
We were sure that unless it was handled by someone experienced 
in these matters, the news of our engagement would give the 
papers a field day. 

After dinner in Reggie s house, the following evening, we all 
retired to the "den" for liqueurs and coffee. This was quite a 
large room, facing what had once been the back yard but had 
been transformed into a miniature garden. Reggie had patterned 
the den after one of the rooms in the famous Inn Guillaume le 
Conquerant, near Deauville. I was fascinated by Reggie s den; 
beautiful old dark-oak paneling gave it a warm, friendly feeling; 


the banquettes, upholstered in toile de Jouy, and the little tables 
around the room with their bright red-and-white checkered 
tablecloths were gay, cozy, and inviting. At the far end of the 
room, facing the garden, was a bar, the first one I had ever seen 
in a private house. 

Over our drinks I noticed that Reggie seemed preoccupied as 
we sat down facing Maury. "Maury," he said, "you know both 
Gloria and I value your friendship. What I am about to tell you 
Gloria has already heard from me." 

"Please, darling," I tried to interrupt, knowing what was 

"No, dearest," he went on, "I want Maury to know that you 
are entering this marriage with your eyes wide open and what 
you may be letting yourself in for." 

Turning to Maury, he went on, "Most of the inheritance left 
to me outright by my father has long since gone. I now derive 
my income from a five-million-dollar trust, which, after my 
death, must go to Cathleen and any other children I might have." 
He paused. "And there may well not be other children," he said 

I could not stand this morbid talk any longer. Putting my arms 
about him, I said, "Darling, all this is not necessary. I told you 
last night I love you. I want to marry you, and I will not hear 
another depressing word out of you." 

With a smile he turned to Maury. "I m the proudest and 
happiest man in the world. What this angel sees in me I will 
never know." Then, shaking his head, he added, "But I still don t 
believe Gloria realizes what she might be up against. Good Lord, 
a Mrs. Vanderbilt without any money!" 

Maury and I laughed. Reggie, now smiling, got up. "I haven t 
talked this seriously in years," he said. "I need a drink." 

Over our drinks we told Maury we planned to be married 
February 17 with as little publicity as possible. Maury roared. 
"Wishful dunking won t make it so, old boy; but seriously, 


Reggie," he went on, "the best and only way is to have Gloria s 
parents make a formal announcement through the Associated 
Press. This will prevent any wild speculations my confreres 
might come up with." 

As I was getting into bed that night Reggie s words came back 
to me: "I want Maury to know that you are entering this mar 
riage with your eyes wide open." Reggie s concern regarding my 
financial position did not worry me at all. Money had never 
played a big part in my life. What did worry me was meeting his 
mother. Would she like me? What was she like? Would she think 
me too young? Would I like her? Would I be capable of 
running a big house? We had lived mostly in hotels, and on the 
rare occasions when we did have our own home, Mamma did 
not think it necessary to teach us this complex art. The very 
thought of hiring, worse, of firing servants sent shivers through 
me. Would the chef laugh at me behind my back at my obvious 
lack of knowledge of the mysteries of his kitchen? My thoughts 
tumbled about like Mexican jumping beans on a hot stove. 

That night I cabled Mamma and Papa: "Divinely happy. 
Regino has asked me to marry him. Leaving for Europe imme 
diately after wedding February 17. Love. Gloria." 

There was an amusing mixup over this cable. My reason for 
using the Spanish translation of Reginald was that I was afraid 
the press would catch on and print the news before a forma] 
announcement could be made. This little trick confused my 
whole family. They thought I meant Regino Truffin. Only 
Thelma, who must have remembered my disappointment when 
Reggie didn t show up at the time of her sailing, guessed the 
truth. The two shortest cables ever exchanged between us were 
Thebna s "Vanderbilt?" and my answer, "Yes." 

When the mystery was unraveled, I received a long cable from 
Papa and Mamma, wishing me all the happiness in the world, 
and saying that Mamma would be over on the next ship, and 
that I would have to postpone the wedding as she would not 


have rime to make all the necessary preparations. This horrified 
me, as a big wedding was the last thing Reggie and I wanted. I 
cabled and explained to her as tactfully as I could that I loved 
her very much, but that it was unnecessary for her to come, as 
it meant changing all our plans. Much as I loved her and hated 
hurting her, I couldn t bear the thought of the chaos she would 
create if she were there. To this cable she answered she under 
stood and was sending Consuelo. 

I chuckled to myself, thinking how poor, dear Mamma must 
have hated sending these lengthy, costly cables. 

The day came when I was to meet Mrs. Vanderbilt; I was 
scared. I suppose every young girl must have some sort of qualms 
when she is about to meet her future mother-in-law for the first 
time, and I was no exception. Adding to this natural apprehen 
sion was the knowledge that I was going to meet not only 
Reggie s mother, but the head of the Vanderbilt family as well. 
The Vanderbilts had fired the imagination of both the public 
and press ever since the days of old Commodore Vanderbilt of 
"The Public Be Damned" fame. And they symbolized the roman 
tic "Rags to Riches" story the public loves so well. The name 
Vanderbilt had also become synonymous with fabulous wealth- 
vast estates in Newport, France, England, and almost any other 
part of the world you might care to mention. They owned 
"palaces" up and down Fifth Avenue; their marriages were bril 
liant alliances whose branches spread across two continents. 
With the constant repetition in the newspapers of the family s 
name, holdings, endowments, and activities, a legend had been 
born, and there were many who had come to believe that the 
Vanderbilts were a race apart. It was not the legend, however, 
that worried me at this time; nor was it the Vanderbilt money. 
My family and my upbringing had equipped me well to meet 
"prestige" situations. What frightened me was the possibility 


that Mrs. Vanderbilt might think me too young for this son she 
so adored, and might not give her approval to the marriage. 

After the tragic death of her son Alfred on the Lwitania, 
torpedoed by the Germans in 1915, Mrs. Vanderbilt had given 
Reggie all the love she had formerly lavished on Alfred. 

As we drove to his mother s house, I held on tight to Reggie s 
hand. "Don t worry, dearest, she ll love you as much as I do," 
he assured me. 

"I m petrified," I whispered, almost in tears. "If she doesn t like 
me; I will never marry you, Reggie. I really mean it." He tried 
to reassure me by putting his arms around me. 

Mrs. Vanderbilt s house occupied the block from Fifty- 
seventh to Fifty-eighth Streets on Fifth Avenue (the site of the 
present Bergdorf-Goodman and the Tailored Woman stores). 
It had enormous black, wrought-iron gates on the park side, 
facing the Plaza. I never saw those gates opened. In the past Mrs. 
Vanderbilt had entertained in the "grand manner" and large balls 
were a yearly occasion. But now that she was in her eighties, she 
had decided to close the gates and use the less imposing entrance 
on Fifty-seventh Street. It was through this that we entered. 

Mrs. Vanderbilt received us in one of the smaller downstairs 
drawing rooms. My first impression was of a tiny woman with 
snow-white hair, standing very erect. Her long, black dress, 
simple to austerity, was relieved only by a sautoir of magnificent 
pearls. Around her throat was a dog collar of pearls and dia 
monds. This small woman stood tall in dignity, dominating her 
surroundings. She led the conversation into many channels: my 
life abroad, the diplomatic service, interesting things I must have 
seen, Mamma, and my sisters. But not a single word was said on 
the subject then closest to my heart. 

As soon as we were in the car I said to Reggie, "Darling, did 
you tell your mother? I can t understand. She never mentioned 
our (engagement." 

He took my hands in his. "Gloria, my mother is a very un- 



demonstrative woman and will not permit herself any show of 
emotion. But you will find out that this reserve covers a sincere 
nature and a warm heart." 

A few years later I was to remember these words. Had she 
lived longer, the infamous Vanderbilt- Whitney case would 
never have developed. 

"But, Reggie," I said, "I don t know where I stand." 

"Don t worry," Reggie said confidently. "You ll be hearing 
from her." 

We were sitting in the den on Seventy-seventh Street, waiting 
for James Deering, Reggie s intimate friend and lawyer. He was 
to bring the necessary papers and marriage license for our signa 
tures. Jim finally arrived, explaining that it was "snowing like 
hell outside. Quite a storm." Reggie got him a drink, after which 
Jim the friend became James the lawyer. Spreading the numerous 
legal documents all over the table, he got down to business. "I 
have just come from the license bureau. I told them that, to avoid 
publicity, we would sign the license here. This, of course, I 
arranged through the proper channels. I have yours all made out, 
Reggie. Now, Gloria, first, what is your full name? Where were 
you born? What date and year?" 

I answered, "August 23, 1905." 

Reggie said, "Good God, you re only seventeen!" 

I don t know why he had never asked me my age before, or 
why I had never told him. 

Jim then explained that our plans would have to be changed. 
The laws of the state of New York require the written consent of 
parents if a minor is to be given a marriage license. It was neces 
sary for me to cable my father for his written consent. Since there 
was then no air mail across the Atlantic, it would take several days 
to get an answer. We had to postpone our marriage until the 
sixth of March. 

In a few days I had a note from Mrs. Vanderbilt: 


Dear Gloria: 

You will be at my house tomorrow afternoon at four o clock to 
meet your future relatives. 



Promptly at four, Reggie and I arrived at the Vanderbilt man 
sion. We were ushered into what I later called the Bird Room. 
Gilt panels, on which were painted brightly colored birds and 
fruits, adorned the walls. I use the term lightly, as they did any 
thing but adorn this large drawing room. 

Mrs. Vanderbilt came to me, took my hand, and led me into 
the room. I heard her say, "Florence, I want you to meet my 
future daughter-in-law, Gloria." Florence was Mrs. McKay 
Twombley, nee Vanderbilt. Of the many persons I met that 
afternoon, those that remain sharpest in my memory are Briga 
dier General Cornelius Vanderbilt and his wife, Grace; Mrs. 
John Shepard, Mrs. Vanderbilfs sister; and Mrs. Henry White, 
nee Emily Vanderbilt. 

I was greatly relieved that Reggie never left my side, for the 
Vanderbilts, en masse, are a distant and restrained group, formal 
to a fault. I was to find out that individually they were warm and 
charming and, in time, most of them became my friends; but in 
that room, at that moment, they seemed frighteningly aloof. 

The one bright spot was when someone suddenly put friendly 
arms around me and said, "I m your Aunt Lulu. Welcome into 
the family." Looking around, I recognized Mrs. Fred Vanderbilt, 
who had known Papa and Mamma in Lucerne. I heaved a sigh 
of relief and in my heart thanked her for this gesture. 

The days that followed were crowded. Parties in our honor 
came one after the other. The press was really snapping at our 
heels now, and I was bustling around, trying simultaneously to 
by-pass reporters and to get my trousseau together. 

For my wedding gown I had decided upon a pearl-gray 
taffeta, as I knew this would please Reggie. Jacqueline Stewart, 



wife of Glen Stewart, a friend of Reggie s, suggested a small but 
very good dressmaker, Sonia Rosenberg. I was delighted with 
my final fitting. The gown was lovely. 

In the meantime, Reggie begrudged every moment I spent 
away from him at what he called "unnecessary nonsense." 

"But, Reggie," I d say, "I have to have a trousseau. Don t you 
want me to look pretty? " 

"There ll be plenty of time for that," he would answer. "I ll 
buy you the whole of Paris." 

Consuelo arrived a few days before the wedding and I moved 
from Margaret Power s home to the Marguery, where Consuelo 
was staying. I was happy to see her and have her with me. 

The plans had been that the small wedding would be held in 
Consuelo s apartment at the Marguery, but by now the press was 
turning our wedding into a circus. It was unbearable. Reggie told 
me his great friends, Mr. and Mrs. Van der Koch, had offered 
their house on East Ninety-second Street for the ceremony and 
if Consuelo and I didn t mind, he thought it would assure us more 
privacy. I couldn t have been more grateful. 

The night before my marriage Consuelo and I dined quietly 
in our apartment. I was glad to stay home. The past few days of 
bustle and excitement had left me exhausted. 

I awoke the next morning with a very sore throat. My cheeks 
were burning; I felt terrible. 

Elise, my maid, came in, set the breakfast tray on my bed, and 
went to the window to open the blinds. I could see it was still 
snowing and the storm was raging. I shut my eyes, as the light 
hurt them. 

"Come, Mademoiselle," said Elise, "don t go back to sleep. 
This is your wedding day. Drink your coffee while it s hot." 

As I sipped the hot coffee, I began to feel a little better. Finish 
ing it, I got out of bed. The minute I stood up I was dizzy and 


"What on earth is the matter with me?" I thought. "What 
could I have?" I d never felt this way before. 

As I dressed, I felt myself getting progressively hotter and 
hotter, then suddenly was cold. I noticed Elise watching me 
carefully. I must have shown the way I felt more than I thought. 
Deciding I d better take my temperature, I went into the bath 
room. When I took the thermometer from my mouth, I saw, to 
my consternation, that the mercury had shot past the danger 
mark. It read 104. 

I didn t believe it. I couldn t believe it. This just couldn t 
happen to me. 

My first thought was, "I m not going to tell Consuelo-or any 
body." I knew what would happen another postponement of 
my wedding. 

I defied whatever it was. Nothing was going to prevent my 
marrying Reggie that day. 

Consuelo came into the room as Elise was helping me into my 
gray taffeta wedding gown. In her hand was the velvet Tiffany 
box that Reggie had entrusted to her, to give to me this day. 
"Darling," she said, "this is Reggie s wedding gift." 

I opened the box and gasped. Resting on black velvet was a 
diamond chain, attached to which was the most enormous, beau 
tiful, pear-shaped diamond I had ever seen. 

As I took it out of its box, Elise exclaimed, "Mon Dieu, Ma 
demoiselle, is it really real?" 

My hands trembled as I put the necklace around my neck. 
How exquisite it was! What a wonderful symbol of Reggie s 

I was pleased to see only a few of the press outside as Consuelo 
and I left for the Edward Van der Kochs house, but my pleasure 
was short-lived, for nearing the house we saw that they were all 
there. Mrs. Van der Koch received us at the door and said, 
"Thank goodness you re in time, Gloria. Reggie has been here 
for hours, shaking like a leaf." 



Soon I heard the strains of "Here Comes the Bride" and on the 
arm of Glen Stewart I walked across the green-and-yellow draw 
ing room, which was banked with yellow and white flowers. 

Reggie and Julian Little, his best man, Consuelo, my matron 
of honor, and Jacqueline Stewart were waiting at the improvised 
altar. As I approached them I became lightheaded again, and the 
scene began swimming. 

I went through the ceremony like an automaton; the figures 
before my eyes merged and separated in blurred patterns. I 
remember certain details only as they might have been seen by a 
being who was not quite myself, a part of me which was detached 
and which attended the ceremony merely as a dreamy onlooker. 
I can recall Reggie s kiss; and I can recall Mrs. Vanderbilt, as she 
put her arms around me and kissed me, in continental fashion, 
on both cheeks. 

When champagne was served at the wedding breakfast, I took 
a timid sip, then found that it was not possible for me to swallow 
it. Mrs. Vanderbilt noticed my difficulty. "Why don t you and 
Reggie slip out?" she said understandingly. "It will be all right." 

Vaguely I recall driving, with Reggie s arm around me, to 
Grand Central Station; and I recall being whisked through a 
special entrance to the Vanderbilts private car. The drawing 
room of the car was peaceful. And I was grateful that at last we 
were alone. But as I sank into the big armchair and rested my 
head against the soft pillow, everything was blurred. The walls, 
the furniture, the many baskets of flowers all receded into a 
phantasmagoric backdrop, then came forward again, clear and 
large, to press against my eyes with a force that seemed unbear 
able. My skin was as dry as a crust of stale bread. It seemed 
impossible to swallow. 

The last thing I wanted at this time was to have Reggie know 
that I was ill. What could be more devastating to a bride, more 
unromantic and more anticlimactic, than to be ill on her wedding 
night? But when dinner was served, the cumulative effect of 


fever, chills, pain, and nausea was too much; nothing I could do 
could conceal the way I felt. 

"Darling," Reggie said, "you look really ill. Are you?" 

It was then that I collapsed. "Oh, Reggie dear," I said, aban 
doning all pretense of appearing brave, "I didn t want you to 
know, but I really think I m going to die." Reggie helped me to 
our stateroom and got me to bed. 

The next morning when we left the private car, which had 
been sidetracked from Providence to Bristol Ferry, we saw enor 
mous drifts of snow banking the tracks. We got into a waiting 
automobile, and began the trip to Reggie s Sandy Point Farm. A 
storm was raging; the wind lashed at our car; snow and ice clung 
to the windshield. 

We passed through the big stone gates of the farm, then drove 
to the small cottage; the big house had been closed for several 
years. Reggie carefully helped me out. Then I fainted. When 
the doctor arrived, his diagnosis was direct: diphtheria. 



New Horizons 


I was dismayed, in Paris, to learn that any divorce action sought 
there by an American, to be legal, must be brought on the 
grounds of the state in which the plaintiff resided. My attorney 
advised me to return to New York and apply for a divorce there. 
But this was easier said than done. The only ground for divorce 
in New York was adultery, and Junior, with his many faults, to 
my knowledge had given me no such basis. I was discouraged 
and miserable. I did not want to return to America so soon. I 
didn t want my friends to sympathize with me. I wanted to be 
near my family. I wanted to lick my wounds among those I 

A few days later I went to Brussels to stay with Papa and 
Mamma. I shall always be grateful to them. Never did they in 
any way censure or condemn me. Mamma never even once said, 
"I told you so." 

Junior bombarded me with letters and cables, begging me to 
return, threatening to come over and get me. All this left me 
cold. So far as I was concerned, he didn t exist. This marriage 
of mine was a closed book. I now wanted to open and read a 
happier one. 

Mamma was getting over a bad bout of the flu. I hated to see 
her so pale and quiet, so unlike herself. She was also suffering 


from what doctors called tic douloureux, a very painful type of 
facial neuralgia. 

It was at this time that Papa got a cable from Reggie, saying 
that Gloria had diphtheria and was in a critical condition. 
Mamma, upon being told, had hysterics. "My baby, my darling 
Gloria, oh, my God, diphtheria! My baby is going to die and 
here I lie on a bed of pain. Get me up! Get reservations at once! 
I must go to her! " It was obvious that in her condition she could 
not have gone anywhere. As I stood by her bed, she kept up a 
constant moaning: "She s going to die, she s going to die." 

So it was arranged that I sail on the next ship. Even if Mamma 
could have gone, wild horses couldn t have kept me from going. 

I had to wait in Paris three days before my ship was to sail. On 
the day before the last I lunched with a friend at the Ritz. As the 
coffee was poured, I looked up from the table. To my horror, I 
spied Junior staggering in. I had no idea what I should do. If he 
came over to me, I was sure he would make a scene. Even if he 
didn t, it would be extremely hard for me to get away from him. 
I hoped he hadn t heard I was sailing the next day and decided, 
on his own, to sail with me. I turned my face away, hoping some 
how that if I didn t see him, he, by some force of sympathetic 
magic, would not be able to see me. But my stratagem was use 
less; when next I looked up he was standing beside me, trying 
to put his arm around me, and babbling with a thick tongue, 
"Thelma, darling, oh, Thelma, darling!" 

Suddenly I had one of my reliable inspirations. I looked up 
with a stony glare. "Really, Junior," I said, "you must be drunker 
than you look. Surely you should be able to tell the difference 
between your own wife and her sister. I m Gloria." 

For a moment he seemed stunned. Then, relying on that 
pseudo-dignity drunkards try to assume when they are caught 
in embarrassing situations, he drew himself up stiffly and said, 
with the greatest formality, "I m sorry, Gloria. For a moment I 



thought you were my wife." He then carefully and slowly navi 
gated his way out of the room. 

<c Whee! That was a close call/ I said to my companion. 

I stayed with Gloria and Reggie all that spring. Gloria grad 
ually came back to health; she lost the terrible pallor that had so 
frightened me when I first saw her, and she began to talk with 
Reggie about plans for their delayed honeymoon. And it was 
wonderful to hear them talk, each competing to suggest places 
whose charm and excitement the other had not as yet known. 
Eventually the time came for them to leave. I hated to see them 
go, but I consoled myself with the thought of their happiness; 
and once again the Morgan twins took their opposite places on 
the transatlantic seesaw. 

All these months I had done nothing about getting a divorce. 
But now that Gloria was no longer my chief concern, I discussed 
the necessary steps with a lawyer. Fie reminded me that a divorce 
in New York State required evidence of adultery, and since I 
did not have evidence of this kind, he suggested that I have 
Junior followed. I didn t want this for two reasons: for one, it 
seemed to me an underhanded way of going about a divorce; for 
another, it was costly. I managed, however, to overcome my 
distaste on both counts. I was determined to have this divorce; 
and my determination had a sufficiently realistic basis to out 
weigh both squeamishness and a realistic need for economy. 

Not long after this I had a telephone call from one of the 
detectives who were trailing Junior. The detective informed me 
that Junior not only was seeing but spending many of his nights 
in the apartment of a well-known and much-talked-about beauty. 
All the necessary divorce evidence, the detective informed me, 
was theoretically available; all that now was required was the 
technicality of a raid. With my approval, the raid was made. 

Junior s lawyer came to see me a few days after the raid. He 
begged me not to use the evidence I had. "Why not?" I asked. 


The lawyer explained that Junior was already on probation at 
the brokerage firm where he now worked; the scandal would 
ruin him. Further, he said, the scandal would be hard on Junior s 
little boy, Petey, who had just been entered in a boarding school. 
I certainly didn t want to hurt little Petey; I had become very 
fond of him in the course of the few visits he had made to us 
during the months I lived with Junior. I asked the lawyer what 
alternative there was, and he, apparently prepared for this ques 
tion, told me that Junior would agree not to contest any divorce 
action in a state where adultery was not the only ground for 
divorce. And so it was decided; when I was ready, I would file 
suit in California. 

I was staying in New York, at the time, with Reba Owen, in a 
delightful apartment in the East Sixties which we together rented 
from Mrs. Lydig Hoyt. I, of course, got no money from Junior. 
Papa was still sending two hundred dollars a month as he had 
before I was married, which, since Gloria s marriage, was all 
mine. Gloria and Reggie gave me an additional three hundred. 
This meant that I was the happy recipient of five hundred dollars 
a month, and was able to keep my personal maid, Elise, who 
Gloria had insisted should accompany me to California. 

One night at a dinner with Sam Goldwyn I met Allen Dwan, 
the famous director. I mentioned Gloria s and my hilarious and 
brief movie career as "Northern Lights." Since my comment 
was intended as a joke, and seemed to amuse the dinner company 
immensely, I was surprised, a few days later, to be called by 
Mr. Dwan and to be asked, seriously, if I would be interested in 
a movie part. He was in the process of shooting, in New York, 
a picture called The Society Scandal, starring Gloria Swanson. 

"Mr. Dwan," I said, "I have never actually acted. I don t think 
I could do it." 

"Of course you can," he said. "All you have to do is play 
yourself a young society matron." 



As I hung up, I was already picturing myself as a great star. 
In my imagination I saw my future swimming pools, ermine 
bathmats, and long, black Rolls-Royces. I also saw myself as a 
great tragediennethe new Ethel Barrymore. 

When I signed the contract, I was amazed to discover that I 
was to get a hundred and fifty dollars a week a fortune, I 
thought with a guarantee of three weeks. "By the way," he 
said, "you ride horseback, don t you?" 

"Indeed I do," I lied. "I ride sidesaddle." The nearest I had 
been to a horse was when I once patted the nose of one of the 
horses that stand so passively in front of the Plaza Hotel. 

"That s fine," Allen said. "Be in Central Park, under the bridge 
near the bridle path, ready and made up, next Monday morning 
at nine. Fm sure you ll like Miss Swanson she s very easy to 
work with." 

When Allen left, I began shaking. What had I let myself in 
for? I was certain Miss Swanson was easy to work with. The 
big question was: was I? 

Eugenia Kelly Davis, a good friend of mine and an expert 
horsewoman, would help me, I was sure; she would certainly 
lend me a riding habit, and would advise me what to do to learn 
lightning horsemanship. 

The next morning found me bright and early at Eugenia s 
apartment. Eugenia seemed as excited as I was about my new 
career, and she quickly outfitted me for my new role. There 
were two details, however, that bothered me. Her boots were too 
tight on me, they made me walk with little mincing steps; it was 
impossible for me to take the long strides she was showing me. 
My other problem was the hat: Eugenia s stiff bowler refused to 
stay perched on my head. 

When Eugenia was at last satisfied that I was properly out 
fitted, she took me out for my first riding lesson. She tried to 
give me some pointers on the way to the riding school, located 


somewhere around West Fifty-ninth Street, but as far as I was 
concerned, she might as well have been talking Chinese. The 
riding instructor picked out for me a horse that was especially 
nice and quiet; and for a solid hour the horse and I walked in 
circles around the practice ring. I felt at last that I was getting 
the feel of the horse, and I prayed that this understahding might 
be reciprocated. 

The following Monday morning I had Elise call me at the 
crack of dawn. Long before I was to report for work I was 
ready, in costume and made up. I had heard that "stars" always 
had their own maids on the set with them, and I wasn t going 
to be outdone. Elise had now become a "dresser." 

As I went up to Allen Dwan, he was talking to Gloria Swan- 
son. He introduced us. I noticed she was wearing a suit, which 
did not seem to me quite fair. Why did I have to be the one to 
ride? I was sure she knew how. 

It took what seemed hours to get the cameras and reflectors 
in place. I didn t know what was expected of me so I just sat 
quietly on a large make-up box which I had borrowed from 
Agnes Hotter, Then Allen came toward me, a handsome young 
man at his side. So this was to be my "husband," I thought. Allen 
introduced me and said, "Now, look, Thelma, the only thing 
you and Jack have to do is to ride under that small bridge at a 
walking pace. When you get about thirty feet beyond it, you 
will notice Gloria, who is taking a stroll, wave to you. You are 
to cut her dead." 

Why? "I asked. 

Allen looked at me. I was sure he was thinking, "I hope she s 
not going to give me trouble." But he said, kindly enough, "She s 
been involved in a scandal and you, her best friend, won t talk to 
her." Nice friend, I thought. 

The terrible moment had arrived. I was petrified; but to look 
at me you would have thought that taking a brisk canter around 



the Park before breakfast was for me an everyday occasion. 

As I confronted my horse, my heart flew into my mouth. The 
horse looked enormous as he stood there, ears well back, sweating 
a little. The crowd had grown to nearly a hundred. Little boys 
were roller-skating over the bridge. It made my horse nervous, 
not to mention what he did to me. 

I was just about to mount when I heard the groom say, "He s 
a bit frisky today. He didn t have much exercise during the 

That did it. I was just about to turn and run, when I heard 
Allen shout, "All right, Thelma, we re waiting for you. Let s try 
and make it on one take." 

I fervently hoped so. 

At last I was mounted. I gently patted the horse s neck and 
said, "Whoa, boy, whoa, boy! " whatever that meant. It seemed 
to please the horse. 

"Jack" and I started toward the bridge, making light conversa 
tion as we had been told to do. I noticed that he looked at me 
in a queer way. I prayed I didn t look as scared as I felt. 

All went well till we got under the bridge and then hell broke 
loose. The noise and echo of the roller skates above frightened 
my horse and he shot off like a flash of lightning. I heard Elise 
hysterically shouting I had never been on a horse before "Mad 
ame is going to kill herself." I wished she d stop screaming, she 
was only frightening my horse all the more, to say nothing of 
myself. My hat was bobbing up and down. My hair had come 
loose and it was all over my face; I couldn t see. 

Just then I remembered somebody had once told me that you 
could always stop a runaway horse if you could get him to go 
around in circles. I didn t know whether this was so or not, but 
I certainly was going to give it a good try. With my right hand 
I gave the rein a mighty pull. To my amazement I found myself 
going back the way I had come; and also to my amazement I 


noticed that my horse had settled down to a nice quiet canter. 
But what was more amazing than anything else was that I was 
still on him, my hat still on my head. 

I don t think now that the horse was really trying to run away 
with me. I think he just needed the exercise. 





The day Papa and Mamma arrived in Paris, Reggie was in a 
dither. If I thought I had been nervous at meeting his mother, 
he seemed to me to be doubly nervous at the prospect of meeting 
my parents. But he needn t have been; he and Papa hit it off 
from the moment they set eyes on each other, and he was 
charmed with Mamma. That night we all dined together at 
Giro s, and later went to Le Perroquet; I was happy to find that 
those I loved liked each other so much. 

A few days later Mamma and Papa left for Brussels, But first 
they made us promise that we would arrive in good time for 
Consuelo s second marriage. Having divorced her first husband, 
Consuelo was now to be married, in Brussels, to Benjamin Thaw, 
then First Secretary to the American Embassy in Brussels. 

After a glorious honeymoon in Europe, Reggie and I came 
back to New York. Thelma met us at the dock, and I whispered 
to her the wonderful news; I was going to have a baby. Reggie 
and I stayed for a few days at the Ritz so that I could be with 
Thelma. We had planned to go on to Sandy Point, which was 
in the process of being redecorated. Mrs. Vanderbilt called us 
from Newport; our rooms at Sandy Point, she said, would not 
be ready for another week. Would we stay with her at The 
Breakers until our place was finished? 

The only other guests at The Breakers when we arrived were 


Mrs. Raymond T. Baker and her sons by Alfred Vanderbilt, 
George and Alfred. Later, however, I met for the first time my 
sister-in-law, Gladys Szechenyi, wife of Count Szechenyi, then 
Hungarian Minister to Washington. She was a small, slender 
woman, extremely shy. Laszlo, her husband, on the other hand, 
was a tall, dashing, good-looking extrovert a storybook Hun 
garian nobleman. 

The Breakers, a massive white stone chateau facing the sea, 
was imposingly and magnificently Vanderbilt. The enormous 
entrance hall was medieval in its vastness. From this rose a lofty 
semicircular marble staircase. There were many and confusing 
drawing rooms on this lower floor; the dining room could easily 
seat a hundred and fifty people. It was at The Breakers that I 
was presented by Mrs. Vanderbilt to what was known as the 
^Newport Set" 

Sandy Point Farm was a large estate, consisting of about two 
hundred and eighty acres. The Big House and several little 
cottages dotted the grounds. The largest was the one we were 
occupying. Reggie had moved into it after his divorce from his 
first wife, Cathleen Nielson, several years before. Two smaller 
cottages were used for guests when needed, the other quarters 
for the grooms and farmhands. 

When we saw our newly-decorated rooms at Sandy Point 
we were delighted. Reggie s room, reflecting his tastes, was 
furnished in Empire. The drapes were of Burgundy-red damask. 
The whole effect, I thought, was traditional and masculine. And 
my room was a special delight Louis XVI furniture, which was 
set against shell-pink walls and delphinium-blue glazed chintz 
curtains. The rest of this previously unloved house still required 
care, refurnishing, and redecorating, and we looked forward to 
a succession of exciting home-making projects. 

The remainder of that season we did very little entertaining. 
Thelma was our only house guest. She came up for our birthday 
late in August and we went to the Clambake Dinner at the "oh, 



so exclusive" and pompous Clambake Club, of which Reggie was 
the president. Our only other entertaining was with a few 
luncheons and dinners before the opening of the horse show. 

After Labor Day we installed ourselves in the house at 12 East 
Seventy-seventh Street in New York. This was a white stone 
house. The entrance hall was large and simple, the floor check 
ered in black-and-white marble. An eighteenth-century curved 
staircase led to the main floor. At the top was a life-sized portrait 
of Reggie s father, Cornelius Vanderbilt. The drawing room was 
well proportioned and furnished with a mixture of eighteenth- 
century French and English furniture. There was a beautiful 
Aubusson on the floor. In one corner stood a grand piano; from 
the center of the ceiling hung a magnificent crystal chandelier. 
The dining room overlooked the garden. The windows were 
leaded in the English style, with the Vanderbilt coat of arms in 
the center. The walls were paneled in a rich red cut velvet; the 
furniture was Georgian. On the sideboard stood three of Reggie s 
large silver trophies, the center one always filled with flowers. 
On the next floor were the library and our private apartments. 
The floor above was to be transformed into a nursery. 

One of the first things I did, after we were settled, was to see 
Dr. MacPherson, who had looked after Thelma when she was 
married to Junior. I was shocked when he told me I would have 
to have a Caesarean operation. I asked him how serious this was. 
He told me that although it was a major operation, there was 
nothing to be afraid of; he had performed as many as eight such 
operations on one woman. The thought of a Caesarean worried 
me a little, but I was so happy I really didn t care; I made up my 
mind, however, that I was not going to tell Reggie until the last 

Reggie s friends and mine of the "Chez Nous" days all got on 
very well together. We gave cocktail parties in the den and 
small luncheon and dinner parties. 

Among Reggie s numerous friends, those I saw most of were 


Laura Andrews and Laura Biddle (we called them Laura A. and 
Laura B.). Laura B. s daughter was William Rhinelander Stew 
art s first wife. Also, James and Violet Deering, Preston Gibson, 
Paul Andrews, Angie Duke and Leonora and Sailing Baruch, Sr., 
Barney Baruch s brother, and the Lucius Boomers. 

I spent many afternoons in Leonora Baruch s charming house 
on Riverside Drive, as well as in Georgine Boomer s apartment, 
playing mah-jongg. Georgine was a very sympathetic and under 
standing person and we were great friends. 

One day Reggie s sister, Gertrude Whitney, phoned to ask if 
she and Harry, her husband, could come over that afternoon. I 
had not met either of them before. She had been away most 
of that winter and could not be at my wedding, as she had sailed 
for Paris a few days before to attend the wedding of her son, 
Cornelius V. Whitney. 

It was not surprising to me that Reggie was so fond of Ger 
trude. In many ways they were much alike. Both disliked any 
form of ostentation, any land of show or ceremony. Each went 
his merry way, disregarding formalities, ignoring the pressure 
of convention and the snipings of gossip; each was a strong, 
highly individualistic, self-contained person. Gertrude was tall 
and very thin; she had a great deal of charm, a keen mind, and a 
quick wit. Harry Payne Whitney was a good complement to her. 
He was also tall; he was good-looking and impetuous. He formed 
his judgments of people quickly; once they were formed, he 
never changed them. I must have been especially favored that 
afternoon, because Harry apparently made up his mind to like 
me; he was to be one of my truest and most steadfast friends. 

Time came for the arrival of my baby. As I was wheeled into 
the operating room, the last thing I was aware of was Thelma s 
pale, strained face. The next thing I knew, I had my baby in my 

Not even the lashing fury of the storm hurling itself against 



our windows could, I thought, ever touch or mar the utter peace 
and contentment I felt at this moment. Little did I dream then 
that a storm far more violent was to engulf my baby and me. 

Reggie s look of pride and joy as he held the baby in his arms 
for the first time is a picture I shall never forget. As he handed 
her back to me, he whispered to her, "Don t forget Mummy s 
present." He had hidden a diamond and emerald bracelet in her 

Little Gloria weighed seven and three-quarter pounds at birth 
and was a normal, healthy child, but Mamma insisted she was a 
delicate one why, I shall never know. I had never before seen a 
newborn baby, and I was not equipped to dispute Mamma s 
dictum. Contrary to the reassurance the doctor gave me, Mamma 
insisted that Gloria was delicate and required special care; and I 
was either too innocent or too foolish to dispute her. 

The first time Mrs. Vanderbilt saw little Gloria, she turned to 
Reggie and said, "Oh, she looks exactly like you, dear. Of all 
my grandchildren, she has the most pronounced Vanderbilt 
eyes." I have often wondered how the Vanderbilts came by those 
almond-shaped, almost Mongolian eyes. 

I had asked Dr. Denning, little Gloria s pediatrician, if he 
could suggest a good baby nurse. He recommended one who came 
to me with excellent references. Her name was Emma Sullivan 
Keislich and she was never to leave Gloria from the hour I 
engaged her until the day she was dismissed by a judge of the 
Supreme Court of New York. 

I stayed in the hospital for three weeks, a week longer than was 
expected, because I had developed phlebitis. I wanted to be home 
with Reggie, and I persuaded the doctor to let me go home in an 
ambulance with Nurse McBride. Nurse Keislich took over the 
baby s care after Miss McBride left. 

Reggie asked me to have the baby baptized in the Episcopalian 
faith; I consented. The ceremony was performed by Bishop 
Herbert Shipman in our drawing room. James Deering was the 


baby s godfather; Gertrude Whitney and Jacqueline Stewart 
were the godmothers. 

Circumstances prevented Gertrude from being present, but she 
had asked her mother to be her proxy. Mrs. Vanderbilt, with her 
soft, blue-veined hands and a radiant look in her eyes, held our 
baby while she was christened "Gloria Laura." I wanted to call 
her Regina, but Reggie insisted on "Gloria." "Laura" was in 
honor of Mamma. 

Reggie beamed on everybody and everything. 

Reggie s daughter by his first marriage, Cathleen Gushing, had 
her first child, Harry Gushing IV, in April; thus Reggie became 
a father and a grandfather at almost the same time. 

Mamma decided not to go to Buenos Aires to join Papa at his 
new post there until I was up and around. She moved into the 
house with us. I was delighted at this, and was grateful for her 
help while I was confined to my bed. Reggie was as pleased as I, 
because he liked Mamma. She petted, pampered, and hovered 
over the baby. 

I was laid up until late April, when the doctor suggested that 
after such a siege it might be a good idea to take me away for a 
change of scene. 

I thought this might be wise for both of us; I had noticed 
Reggie himself was not looking well. I asked him if he had con 
sulted a doctor; he said he had, and that his symptoms were 
nothing to worry about. Then he told me, for the first dine, that 
he had had sclerosis since he was a young man at Yale. The 
doctor had advised him that if he curtailed his drinking for a 
while and confined himself to light wines and champagne he 
would be perfectly all right. Since I had never seen Reggie drink 
to excess, what he said did not worry me as much as it should 
have. I did not realize that his steady, consistent, although mod 
erate drinking particularly brandy milk punches was seriously 
undermining his health. 



I was sure a short holiday would do us both good. The only 
thing to prevent this trip was my unwillingness to leave the baby 
with just a nurse, as Mamma was planning to join Papa in Buenos 
Aires. But Mamma, sensing my feelings, suggested she stay until 
we returned. "Go with your husband, darling/ she said, "have 
fun, enjoy yourself. You don t have to worry about a thing. I ll 
take care of the little one as long as you like." 

At the end of May, after installing Mamma, the nurse, and the 
baby at Sandy Point, Reggie and I sailed for Paris. 

We were back in Newport the first week in July. 

To my surprise, Reggie suggested giving a ball. I was in a 
dither of excitement at the thought of being hostess at my first 
big party. I held out for fancy dress, remembering what fun 
Thelma and I had had at Cobina s, and I won. 

The house became a beehive. Guest lists were made up, 
caterers hired, orchestras engaged. But the most important prob 
lem to me was, what was I going to wear? I took hours planning 
my costume, and how I wished Thelma, who had gone to Cali 
fornia, were with me to share the fun and excitement! 

I finally chose a regal costume of white-and-gold brocade and 
a cloak of royal purple chiffon bordered in ermine. I planned to 
wear a jewel-encrusted diadem on my white powdered wig. 

Finally the invitations were on the way and we had a breath 
ing spell. 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Vanderbilt introduced me, for the first rime, 
to Bailey s Beach, which was quite unlike the European seaside 
resorts I had known. I found to my astonishment that black 
stockings and below-the-knee skirted bathing suits were still de 
rigueur, and that there were more "do" and "don t" edicts than 
grains of sand on this chaste beach. 

The sensation of that season was made by Rose Nano, a great 

beauty and wife of the First Secretary of the Romanian Legation 

in Washington. Poor Rose, unaware of the taboos, appeared in 

what was then called an "Annette Kellerman." The shocked 



hush could have been heard to the far end of staid Bellevue 
Avenue. Even the waves seemed to hang at the crest before 
crashing onto the beach. I met her later that night at Mrs. John 
Aspegren s dinner. She told me she could still feel the chill of 
the dowagers lorgnettes sliding up and down her spine. 

Newport of 1924 was especially gay. Not in years had there 
been such a brilliant season. The tennis tourney, the horse show, 
swimming, luncheons, and teas filled the days with an endless 
round of entertainments, Reggie by-passed the teas, spending 
that time in the Reading Room. For most husbands this exclusive 
men s club was a haven from what they referred to as the 
"cackling dowagers"; moreover, the Reading Room offered 
something stronger than tea. 

While I was busy with my ball, Reggie was busier with his 
horse show. He had just succeeded the late Henry F. Eldridge as 
president. That year the feature of the show was Reggie s pres 
entation of the Memorial Cup to perpetuate the name of his 
champion, Lady Dilham, the finest American-bred hackney of 
her size and type in the country. I was very proud that Reggie 
made this the most successful horse show in many years. Every 
box was taken. Among the boxholders were Mr. and Mrs. Moses 
Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. Forsythe Wickes, Mrs. Hamilton McK. 
Twombly, Commodore and Mrs. Arthur Curtis James, Mr. 
Edward J. Berwind, Mr. and Mrs. William Woodward, and 
Mr. and Mrs. T. Suff ern Tailer. 

That afternoon at Mrs. William Post s, after the show, the 
main topic of conversation seemed to be my ball, and there was 
great curiosity as to what everybody planned to wear. They 
pumped me also, but I wouldn t tell. 

The big night arrived. 

The entrance to the estate and the driveway were outlined in 
colored electric lights, with an occasional large cluster of bright 
Japanese lanterns. The whole house was a bower of flowers and 



The ballroom was beautiful, with great baskets of flowers in 
every corner. An enormous sunburst of American Beauty roses 
formed a frame for the Meyer Davis Orchestra, which was 
placed on a raised platform at the end of the big room. To the 
left of the terrace, facing the Seaconnet River, a tent had been 
erected for supper. 

I was pleased that Mrs. Vanderbilt had paid me the compli 
ment of offering to receive with me. Although Mrs. Vanderbilt 
was not in costume, she looked magnificent in her simple black 
dress, diamond tiara, and rows of perfectly matched pearls. 
Mamma s only concession to costume was an exquisite old white 
Spanish lace mantilla draped over a large tortoise-shell comb. 

The best I could do with Reggie was to get him to wear his 
Yale reunion jacket of the Class of 1902. 

The guests started arriving and the rooms quickly filled with 
queens, kings, princes, harlequins, Indian potentates, bergeres, 
Cossacks, mandarins, princesses, harem girls, Gay Nineties beau 
ties, and clowns. The superb and lavish costumes, the fabulous 
and brilliant jewels, the handsome and colorful regalia of the 
men, made a picture reminiscent of the Arabian Nights. The 
beautiful Fernanda Goelet came as a Polish princess. Roly-poly 
Hannibal de Mesa chose to be a matador. Princess Miguel de 
Braganza looked charming in a panniered bergere costume of the 
court of Marie Antoinette. Everyone applauded when Hamilton 
Fish, as Louis XVI, danced a minuet with her to the strains of 
"Jardinier du Roi," said to have been written by Marie Antoi 
nette for Louis XVI. 

This performance started an impromptu pairing off-every 
Pierrot went looking for his Pierrette, every Anthony for his 
Cleopatra. Will Stewart, as Donnelly, in kilts, found his Mary 
Queen of Scots in Millicent Hearst. Townsend Burden, as Nel 
son, discovered his Emma Hamilton in Mrs. Raymond Baker. 
Fal de Saint Phalle, as Paris, spied beautiful Mrs. Drexel Biddle, 
Jr., his Helen of Troy. 


Supper was served to the strains of a gypsy stringed orchestra; 
and it was not until after supper that Mrs. Vanderbilt left. 

Reggie whispered to me, "Mother must have enjoyed herself. 
I haven t seen her up this late in years." 

As we saw her to her car, Mrs. Vanderbilt said, patting my 
hand, "Gloria, it s been a beautiful party, a triumph for you, my 
dear. Everybody was here." 

We danced and sang until morning. Dawn was coming up as 
the last guests left; and as we wearily went up to bed Reggie had 
to acknowledge that he had really enjoyed his own party. 

We moved back to the New York house shortly after Labor 

Mamma by now had become a member of the household. She 
talked vaguely about rejoining Papa in Buenos Aires, but would 
drop the subject when either Reggie or I suggested her staying a 
little longer. We both liked having her. Reggie enjoyed her 
vivacious charm and gaiety. She never bored him. 

Mamma, when she wanted to, could be a very clever and 
amusing conversationalist. I remember Aunt Lulu, Mrs. Fred 
Vanderbilt, who had known Mamma for years, telling me that 
Mamma was one of the most fascinating women she had ever 
met. She laughingly added, "I do believe she could charm the 
birds off the trees; and if she put her mind to it, she could make 
you believe that black was white." 

The fall and winter of 1924 were spent mostly attending large 
and small dinner parties in our honor, given by various members 
of the family. The Vanderbilts are not a close-knit family; each 
branch holds forth in its own way, seeing little of the other 
branches except at weddings, gatherings to introduce a new 
member to "The Clan," or at funerals. 

Reggie and I were often bored with these duty dinners but 
put up with them because we knew it would please Mrs. Vander 
bilt. One was more formal than another. The butlers and foot- 



men, standing like sentinels around the dining rooms, made any 
kind of intimate conversation impossible. The protracted ten 
courses of rich food, which Reggie disliked so much; the custom 
which required that, after dining, the ladies retire to the drawing 
room, leaving the men to themselves and their port all of this 
poor Reggie found hard to stomach. Reggie was not just a rich 
man s son, but a very rich man s son. By virtue of his inheritance, 
he should have taken a conventional place both in society and 
in finance. But at heart he was a Bohemian. He was easily bored 
by people of small wit; and business activity which had no end 
other than activity itself did not appeal to him. He preferred to 
live his life solely to please himself. In a man without wealth, 
this temperament would be called one of philosophical detach 
ment; in a rich man it is called sybaritic. 

Gertrude Whitney in many ways manifested the temperament 
of Reggie; her sculpture, however, was a tangible creative ac 
tivity, which provided a cloak for her Bohemianism. This un 
usual woman was a paradox. She lived two distinct lives, one 
always well insulated from the other. In her home on Fifth 
Avenue she was the highly proper society matron, the stereotype 
of all the Vanderbilt women. But in her studio in Greenwich 
Village she was, like Reggie, the unabashed Bohemian, Her studio 
was a meeting place for artists and their models, for writers, 
actors, musicians, raconteurs, geniuses, and characters. Anyone 
who had talent, or the earmarks of talent, was welcome. 

Mrs. Vanderbilt, though proud of her talented daughter, did 
not fully approve of her life. I remember a time in Paris when 
she asked me to go with her to Gertrude s studio in Passy. She 
looked with distaste at a heroic figure Gertrude was working on, 
then shuddered, almost imperceptibly. On our way back to the 
hotel she turned to me and said sadly, "I do wish Gertrude didn t 
have to work at those horrible nudes." 

There were many paradoxes in the Vanderbilt family. Another 
was Reggie s financial situation. Although he was born to exces- 


sive wealth, his early spending and the structure of the trust fund 
on which we lived left him with an income too small to continue 
living with the lavishness which was expected of him. One day 
we were lunching with Mrs. Vanderbilt at the Ambassador. Mrs. 
Vanderbilt suddenly turned to Reggie and asked, "Why hasn t 
Gloria any pearls? Doesn t she like pearls?" 

"Indeed she does, Mother," Reggie said. "But the ones I d like 
to give her I can t afford just now." 

Mrs. Vanderbilt was wearing a sautoir of pearls, wrapped 
several times around her neck. She beckoned to the maitre 
d hotel. "Bring me a pair of scissors," she requested. 

She proceeded with great deliberation to untwine the long 
strand and place it on the table in front of her. When the scissors 
arrived, she calmly snipped off half of the strand. Handing me 
more than fifty thousand dollars worth of pearls, she said sweetly, 
"There you are, Gloria. All Vanderbilt women wear pearls." 
Then, as if nothing out of the way had happened, and without 
further reference to the subject, she placed the remaining pearls 
in her gold mesh bag and resumed her conversation. 



Movies and Moving 


Vv hen Gloria and her baby returned home from the hospital, I 
announced my intention of going to California to establish my 
residence there. None of my family was pleased at my decision. 
Mamma said she had heard Hollywood was a "den of iniquity" 
and no place for a nineteen-year-old girl. Gloria thought it was 
too far away and anyway she knew I would never be a good 
actress. What did she mean a good actress? I was going to be a 
great actress! She had more sense than I, for it took me some 
rime to find out that great actresses are born; no amount of wish 
ful thinking can make one. 

Late in March 1924 Elise and I set off for California. The 
Super Chief of today, with its air-conditioning, luxurious dining 
room, bars, radio in every drawing room, and soft music playing 
at the touch of a button, is a far cry from the train Elise and I 
took. But I was young and, comfort or discomfort, it all spelled 
adventure to me. 

The attorney who was to handle my divorce met us at the 
Santa Fe Station in Los Angeles and drove us to the Ambassador 
Hotel. And there, as I was signing the register, I heard a man 
exclaim, "Thelma! What brings you to Hollywood?" 

There stood Sam Goldwyn. Here, at least, was a friend in this 
strange new part of the world. I explained that my stay was 


indefinite, and gave the reasons. "I must give a little party for 
you," he said. 

Sam Goldwyn s "little party" for me turned out to be a mag 
nificent ball at his home. The formal garden was in bloom with 
colored lights. The sapphire-blue pool, illuminated from below, 
was decorated with fresh-cut flowers hundreds of them float 
ing on the water. Men and women, more glamorous even than 
my romantic imagination had led me to expect, danced on the 
terrace. Beneath a striped marquise tent caterers served delicious 
food; champagne gushed from magnums like water from a foun 
taina singular sight in those prohibition times. 

I made many friends that night, among them Louella Parsons 
and Anita Stewart. Dear Louella! She never ceases to amaze me; 
when you are talking to her, she doesn t appear to be listening, 
but the next day you invariably find that your every word is 
printed verbatim in her columns. She has never been seen with 
a pencil in her hand; her "news" is recorded with astonishing 
accuracy somewhere in the recesses of her mind. Anita Stewart, 
one of the great stars of silent pictures, subsequently married 
George Converse, a distant relative of the man I was divorcing. 

I also met John Gilbert, the silent film s great lover, as debonair 
in life as in his romantic roles on the screen. 

As I was dancing, I noticed a grave-faced, intelligent man with 
unruly gray hair watching me. When I was told that this was 
Charlie Chaplin, I could hardly believe it he seemed so diff erent 
from the pathetic little baggy-pants clown I had laughed at so 
many times. This man with the sorrowful, melancholy face must 
surely be a tragedian, I thought, not a clown. Later tliat evening 
Sam introduced" us. Charlie s voice was low, and in it was the 
faintest trace of cockney. It was only when he smiled that be 
witching, impish little smile of his that I saw any resemblance at 
all to the clown the world knew and loved. He drove me home 
that night and asked me to dine the following evening. 



Charlie and I became good friends. I used to love to hear him 
tell me of his childhood in England, of his poverty; how, at times, 
he d even had to forage in garbage cans for food; how, after 
years of struggle, he had finally been recognized in Hollywood. 
But what he didn t realize was that he had also been recognized 
by the world as one of the great artists of our time. He told me 
that on his first trip East after his success in Hollywood, at every 
stop, however big or little, crowds would be standing on the 
platform, shouting "We want Charlie! We want Charlie!" And 
when he reached New York, banners were stretched across 
Broadway: "Welcome, Charlie!" He was so grateful and hum 
ble in the telling of this story that I had a hard time keeping 
back the tears. It is a pity he lost both gratefulness and humble 
ness in his success. 

We saw a great deal of each other in the days that followed, 
and, as might be expected, the newspapers came out with head 
lines announcing that Charlie and I were to be married. This, of 
course, was nonsense; we liked each other, I enjoyed his intel 
ligence, and responded to his charm but we were friends and 
nothing more. Gloria and Mamma read the startling news back 
in New York and believed it. They immediately bombarded me 
with telegrams and letters. Gloria wired, "Are you out of your 
mind?" Mamma was more imperious. Her wired command was, 
"Come home at once." Yielding to pressure, I stopped seeing 
Charlie as often. A few months later he married Lita Gray. 

I was getting impatient. I had been in Hollywood nearly two 
months with no sign of a part, when once again Sam Goldwyn 
was to open the door for me. 

His casting director called up one day and asked if I would 
care to take a part in a picture called Cytherea. This was one of 
the first color films ever made a pallid forerunner of the beau 
tiful Technicolor films of today. I was to play the role of a 


Spanish senorita. As he was talking to me I thought, well, here s 
one role Mamma won t object to. 

"Now mind you," the director said, "it s not a big part." 

I didn t mind if it was big or not; it was a start. 

When I got to the studio the next day, the wardrobe depart 
ment gave me a most beautiful Spanish costume to wear. 

The director told me I was to stand under an arch. As the 
leading man passed, I was to flirt with him. The property man 
handed me a fan; I took my place. The action started; and as the 
leading man passed me, I heard the director shout at me, "Wink, 
Thelma! For God s sake, wink!" I winked. My big moment had 
come and gone. 

Soon after this I met Laurette Taylor and her husband, Hartley 
Manners. Laurette was filming Peg o* My Heart, playing the 
role she had created and made so famous on the stage. She 
and Hartley were staying in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills 
Hotel, which in those days was practically in the country. Every 
Sunday they would have friends over for lunch. Later, we 
would play tennis, or drive over to Pickf air, Mary Pickf ord and 
Douglas Fairbanks house, for a swim. Later, back at the bunga 
low, we would have supper and play charades. 

These parties were rather special, and those included had to 
have something special, too. Laurette demanded intellect, talent, 
wit, beauty, separate or, preferably, combined. The only thing 
she was a snob about was mediocrity. 

Ernst Lubitsch, King Vidor, both well-known directors; dear 
Marie Dressier; Eleanor Boardman; Norma Shearer; Charlie 
Chaplin, are some that I remember in her home. 

When Melba Meredith was there, we would have music. She 
was then married to Charles Meredith, a handsome young lead 
ing man, and was the mother of a beautiful little baby girl, Diane. 
Melba was born in California and sang all the old Mexican songs 
like a native. She must have inherited her lovely voice from her 
grandmother, Anna MacKenzie, the well-known opera star of 



the Eighties. Her great-grandfather had been the first military 
governor of San Francisco, 

It was at Laurette s, on one of these Sundays, that I met 
Richard Bennett, the father of Constance, Barbara, and Joan, and 
the great matinee idol of the day. At this time I had only one 
serious concern what I grandly called "my career." My life was 
uncomplicated by attachments; my work as yet undemonstrated 
was my life. Thus I was totally unprepared for the forceful and 
immediate attraction he had for me. Yet he was not handsome in 
the conventional sense; his features were irregular, his face was 
square, and he was not a great deal taller than I. His appeal 
seemed to lie in his eyes, which were large, blue, questioning, and 
which focused intently on you; and in his personality, which was 
dramatic but sympathetic, and which was projected with great 

The following day he called me and asked if I would like to 
lunch with him and friends at Malibu Beach. Obviously, I would. 
When we arrived at the beach, Dick had completed his personal 
ity spade work; I had passed the point of being attracted to him; 
I was fascinated by him. On the other hand, at my age, I was 
easy game for a man around whose head hung all the glamor of 
the theater and who was practiced in all the arts which are the 
province of a great actor. I was sophisticated in my own way, 
not Dick s. I knew places and parties; I was at home with titles 
and rank; but in the world where talent and imagination ruled, 
where complex humans wove personal patterns of great intricacy, 
I was incredibly naive. Dick talked with spirit and charm, un 
rolling a wealth of opinion and fantasy; he talked of books, of 
poetry, of the theater of the thousand small things that make 
up the variegated mosaic of a star s life. And it followed, alto 
gether naturally, it seemed to me, that I found myself in love 
with him one day after we had met. 

I teased Dick about his daughters. Connie, who was more or 
less my age, and a good friend of mine, was in Hollywood at this 


time, making Sally, Irene and Mary. I told him I was going to 
take Connie to task; I intended to ask her how she could consider 
herself a friend yet all the while keep such a fascinating father 
from me. I also told him, almost timidly, of my ambitions. "All I 
want," I said glibly, "is to be an actress a good actress." 

As we lay on the beach after lunch, we talked about the thea 
ter, about the plays he had starred in. I asked him which of the 
many plays he had starred in he preferred. He told me that there 
had been many, but the most gratifying to him had been Dam 
aged Goods. This had been a highly controversial play, shocking 
to many, as it dealt with syphilis and its tragic consequences. 
Dick believed that if people could be made to face the facts con 
cerning this scourge, something could be done about it; and he 
was pleased when his theory was subsequently proven correct. 
However, he told me that at the time he was sharply criticized 
for daring to utter the abhorred word "syphilis" in the theater. 
"You d think," he said wryly, "they were afraid they d catch it 
from the sound! " 

From this time on we were inseparable. Was it infatuation, or 
could it be possible that I was actually falling in love with a 
man fifty-one, a man old enough to be my father, I asked myself? 
He was brilliant, famous, sophisticated, romantic, and poetic. 
And he loved me. 

There were beauty, excitement, tenderness, and high emotion 
in him. Or was it his fame and the accompanying applause and 
adulation that went everywhere with him which created the 
aura surrounding us? 

Even though I saw Dick nearly every day, between times he 
would send me little poetic notes. One touched me deeply. I 
copied it in my Memory Book: 

Oh, graceless God of that thing we call love, bear with me, please. 
I do not call on powers above to guide me in my utterances To her, 
my loved, who is my right hand, You know, my heart. Out of her 
inspiration all creation flows. Tell her this subconsciously and make 



her know. She knows only that she is a pet of mine. Make her know 
the truth, Dear God, Of that thing we call Love And thus prove 
yourself a God And me a man for her eyes to see. 

Part of the magic must have been that he made me feel like 
such an attractive woman. He was the artist in love as well as 
in his work, and I was in a dream world woven of poetry, rom 
ance, and adoration. 

When we discussed my "career," Dick was kind and patient 
with me; but I soon realized that he was only humoring me. It 
was obvious to him that I was not prepared to make the personal 
sacrifices that a career demanded. In his oblique way he tried to 
explain that only the end product of acting involved bright lights, 
glamor, and applause. What the public did not see, and what I 
certainly seemed to him to be unaware of, were the years of 
grind, of sacrifice, of humiliations, conflicts, failures. But the 
more he reasoned with me, the more stubborn I became. I re 
sented his subtle hints about my dubious determination. What 
made him think I could not take hard work? How dare he 
insinuate that I couldn t act? He had never seen me. 

Yet this inward protest made even me laugh. Of course he 
hadn t. Apart from The Society Scandal picture, the only one he 
could possibly have seen me in was Cytherea, and had he blinked, 
he would have missed me in that. But I didn t think of that at the 
time. If I had to storm every studio, I was going to prove to him 
I could act. Of course he was right. I didn t have the slightest 
talent. All I had was youth and a certain amount of good looks. 
Some people and most newspapers at that time described Gloria 
and me as beautiful. As far as we were concerned, that was a lot 
of nonsense. We certainly didn t have the classical beauty of a 
Greta Garbo or a Lady Diana Manners, the great English beauty 
who portrayed the Madonna in Max Reinhardt s The Miracle. 
Perhaps we had a talent for creating an illusion of beauty. We 
didn t conform to type. We had a style of our own, Cecil Bea- 


ton s description of us in a book he wrote tided The Book of 
Beauty describes us better than I dare: 

The Morgan sisters, Lady Furness and Mrs. Vanderbilt, are alike 
as two magnolias and with their marble complexions, raven tresses 
and flowing dresses, with their slight lisps and foreign accents, they 
diffuse, like Lady Howe, an Ouida atmosphere of hothouse elegance 
and lacy femininity. They are of infinite delicacy and refinement, 
and with slender necks and wrists, and long coiled, silky hair, they 
are gracefully statuesque. Their noses are like begonias, with full 
blown nostrils, their lips richly carved, and they should have been 
painted by Sargent, with arrogant heads and affected hands, in white 
satin with a bowl of white peonies near by. 

While I was still eager to prove my ability to Dick, I met 
Henry King, the famous director, at a party Mary Pickf ord and 
Douglas Fairbanks gave at Pickfair. Mary was, as she is today, 
"queen" of the moving-picture colony, and will always be 
America s Sweetheart. 

Henry King was about to make a picture called Any Woman, 
and that night he offered me a small part. Henry King was 
known for the interest and trouble he d take with newcomers; 
many a star has been helped on the way up by this great director. 
Alice Terry was starred, and, as I remember, Ramon Navarro 
was her leading man in this picture. At the end of each day we 
would see the "rushes" that had been made the day before. That 
first day, when the lights went up in the projection room, I 
heard Henry King, not knowing I was there, say, "Who said 
Thelma Morgan was hard to photograph?" 

I must say, whoever said it was right, but then I was also told 
everybody thinks the same way when he sees himself on the 
screen. But this time that dear cameraman, whoever he was, had 
made me look glamorous. 

Henry King enlarged my part and I worked through the entire 
picture. I was never happier than when working in that film. 



Henry King and Alice Terry couldn t have been kinder and 
more helpful But I am afraid the part never gave me a chance to 
show my acting ability, if any. As usual, I was cast as a young 
society matron, I was getting discouraged. 

After I finished Any Woman I moved into a small, charming 
house on Hawthorne Avenue in Hollywood, Elise and I loved it. 
We had our own little garden in the back with an orange tree 
and a lemon tree. And at last I could have all the flowers I 
wanted. To me a room without flowers is like a sky without sun. 

Though I was happy in my new home, I was also terribly 
mixed up. Was I falling in love with Dick? This I knew in my 
heart of hearts I shouldn t do. Our worlds were far too far apart. 
It would be an intolerable situation. I would be a misfit in his 
world he in mine. How could there be this strong attraction 
between two whose life patterns were so diverse? My emotions 
were whirling like a top. Yet surely, by now, I could tell the 
difference between love and infatuation! At one moment I 
longed for Gloria to be with me I wanted to tell her all about 
it, ask her advice. The next, I didn t want hen How could she 
understand? How could she ever untangle for me this topsy 
turvy world I all of a sudden found myself in, when it was more 
than I could do myself? I, and I alone, would have to find the 

Eventually the time arrived that I had anticipated with dread, 
the time Dick was to leave for a road tour. He was to open in 
Denver in the play They Knew What They Wanted. 

I was depressed and he was quiet and thoughtful as we lay on 
deck chairs in my garden after dinner the night before his de 
parture. You could almost hear the stillness, so quiet was the 
night. The stars seemed to wink at us as they twinkled in the sky. 
With a sigh I closed my eyes. I thought of Eunice Tietjens 
lovely lines: "And nothing aches in all this beauty-Except my 

I felt Dick take my hand in his and place a ring on my engage- 


ment finger. I leapt to my feet. I hoped he wouldn t say anything, 
for I knew I didn t have the answernot then. 

"Darling, I want you to be mine always," he said. "I can t let 
you go out of my life." 

As I looked at him, his eyes filled with tears. Did he know, had 
he guessed the turmoil I had been in for the last few weeks? 

Before I could say anything, he took me in his arms. "No, my 
dearest, don t answer just yet. I know the way you feel now. 
Take a little time to think about it, then come to me and give me 
the answer I pray to hear. Please, my beloved, don t make it too 
long." With a gentle kiss on both my tear-stained eyes, he left 

I threw myself into the deck chair and cried. 

Those next few days I spent trying to analyze my feelings for 
Dick. I knew I loved the glamor and excitement that went with 
him. Butand it was a very big but did I love him enough to 
marry him, and share the rest of my life with him? 

One morning it came upon me suddenly: I could not marry 
him. It was just not in the cards. It had taken me nearly twelve 
out-of-this-world months to look clearly at the chasm between 
his world and mine. 

Dear Dick! I dreaded to have to tell him, but I thought it only 
fair to do it at once. 

Elise and I arrived in Denver and went straight to Brown s 
Hotel, where Dick had made a reservation for us. He had not 
been able to meet me; our train arrived after his evening perform 
ance began. My suite was filled with flowers. A note from Dick 
told me how sorry he was not to be able to be at the station, and 
asked if I would meet him in his dressing room at the theater. 

The theater manager showed me to Dick s dressing room, and 
from it I could hear Dick s voice onstage. I could picture him 
there, playing to Pauline Lord, his leading lady. I saw the half- 
filled jars of cold cream; I saw the boxes of powder and rouge, 
the tubes of grease paint, the soiled towels thrown haphazardly 



on the table below the naked electric bulb. And suddenly all the 
glamor disappeared. It is difficult, after these many years, to 
account for the psychological subtleties of this moment. But it 
was clear to me then that, no matter what I had felt or believed 
before, I was no longer deeply in love with Richard Bennett. 
I realized I would never be either an actress or an actor s wife. 

Reggie, Gloria, Mamma, and little Gloria sailed for France 
late in April, attended by Nurse Keislich, a maid, and a valet. A 
month later I got my interlocutory decree cutting my legal ties 
to Junior Converseand I joined them in Paris. Gloria and 
Reggie met me at the Gare du Nord. It had been more than a 
year since I had seen Gloria, and the feeling of belonging that 
came over me when we were together again made my decision 
to leave Hollywood and all that went with it seem emotionally 
right. This was the world in which I belonged; this was the world 
I knew. 

Of course the first thing we did upon arriving at the hotel was 
to go up and see the baby. Little Gloria was not what one would 
call a "pretty, pretty baby." She had the slanting, heavy eyelids 
of her father and his rather sullen mouth. It was only when she 
smiled that her face lit up. 

"My, she looks like you, Reggie," I said. 

Reggie beamed. 

Gloria had little hair for a baby a year old, a sort of silky soft 
light brown fuzz, but we all thought her beautiful How Reggie 
would have loved to see her grow up into the truly beautiful 
young woman she is today! 

Gloria and Reggie had planned a dinner party for me. Among 
the guests invited was Beth Leary. She used to spend the winters 
in New York and the summers mostly in Paris and Biarritz. She 
enjoys life so much; she is a good companion, and, more, a good 

The day of the dinner party Beth telephoned Gloria and told 


her Lord Furness, a friend of hers from London, was in Paris for 
a few days. Could she bring him along? Gloria said she would 
be delighted, but as she hung up I noticed she didn t seem too 

"Bother! " she said, "this means reseating my table." 

Gloria decided to sit me at Lord Furness s right. I was glad she 
did, for he turned out to be a charming dinner companion. I 
learned that his mother had saddled him with the good, old- 
fashioned, romantic English name of Marmaduke. It was a good 
thing, I was to think years later, she had only this one child. 
Heaven only knows what she would have named the others! 
When my son Tony was born on Easter Sunday, she had the 
brilliant idea that we should name him Easter. 

I liked Duke Furness from the moment I sat next to him. He 
was slender, of medium height, his red hair parted in the middle, 
his dinner clothes tailored as only the English can tailor them. 
He wore a silk handkerchief tucked in the sleeve of his jacket. 
It s strange how a mannerism like tucking a handkerchief in a 
sleeve can endear a person to you; I was fascinated by this act 
which he performed so naturally and so gracefully. His eyes 
were keen, pale blue. I wasn t surprised to learn later that he was 
considered one of the most acute and brilliant businessmen in 
England. His word in the City was almost legal tender. I believe 
the sale of the Furness- Withy Line for some nine million pounds 
was concluded virtually on the back of a menu. 

As we chatted that night at dinner, I noticed he had a slight 
North Country Yorkshire accent. His vocabulary, however, 
shocked me; it was more characteristic of the stables than the 
drawing room. But as I got to know Duke better, I realized that 
his strong language was more a mask for shyness than a sign of 
vulgarity. As an only child he had been terribly spoiled by his 
doting mother. When he decided not to return to Eton, he was 
allowed to remain out of school. I think it was at this time that 
his father, Sir Christopher Furness, M.P. for Hartlepool and 



founder of the Furness Line, a self-made man, decided that his 
son would never amount to anything in business. 

When Duke married Daisy Hogg, his first wife, who died in 
1921, his father gave him a place called Nid-Hall in Yorkshire 
and told him to get on with his fox hunting. To Sir Christopher, 
hunting and horses seemed to be the only things Duke knew 
or cared to know. 

When Sir Christopher died, he left his vast business interests in 
the care of Sir John Furness, a cousin of his, thinking that Duke 
could not or would not attend to them. He was to be proven 
very wrong. When Sir John died in an accident, in 1914, Duke 
took over complete control of all his father s enterprises. 

When the dinner party broke up that evening, Duke whisked 
me off dancing. We made the rounds, it seemed to me, of all the 
night clubs in Paris ending, almost at dawn, at the Casanova 
the Russian boite so popular in the Twenties, where champagne 
and caviar were served to an accompaniment of violins, bala 
laikas, and a Cossack choir. 

It was not till the early hours, when the sun was turning pink 
over Montmartre, that we stopped at the flower market near the 
Madeleine and arrived at the Ritz laden with flowers. 

As I finally got into bed, I thought, what a happy, wonderful 
evening it had been. Too bad he had to leave for London the 
next day. I wondered if I would see him again. 

Late the following morning with my breakfast Elise brought 
me an enormous box of flowers. The card read: Tm sure you 
were too tired to put your flowers in water this morning. I hope 
these roses will keep fresh till I see you again. Duke." They did, 
for he was back in Paris two days later. 





The night of the dinner, Thelma s beauty and charm had, it 
seemed, completely captivated Duke Furness. It appeared that 
Reggie and I had become unwitting matchmakers. 

The days passed, and we saw more and more of Duke. He 
found an inordinate amount of unfinished business to attend to 
in Paris, especially over weekends. 

Thelma and I spent our days shopping at Fairyland, the Dior 
of babyland where they had such wonderful children s clothes 
at Vionet s, Chanel s, Lanvin, and Reboux, replenishing my Sonia 
Rosenberg wardrobe. Since the day when Sonia made my wed 
ding dress I had gone to her for all the clothes I had made in 
New York. In between my shopping sprees, Reggie insisted that 
I sit for my portrait by Dana Pond, the American artist. This I 
did in our apartment at the Ritz. 

Duke, Thelma, Reggie, and I made a happy, congenial four 
some. We lunched together most days at the Pre-Catalan or 
Armenonville in the Bois de Boulogne. Thelma and I became 
infected with Duke and Reggie s enthusiasm for racing, and 
almost every afternoon we would end up at Longchamp. Our 
evenings were spent at the gay night spots, such as Le Jardin 
de Ma Sceur, Le Perroquet, and Chez Fisher. 

It was at Chez Fisher one night that Cora Madoux was singing 
a humorous French song. Duke and Reggie, understanding little 



French, and not able to get the point of the lines, became frus 
trated. Duke exploded in a way that I was later to find charac 
teristic of him: "Why the bloody hell don t these people speak 
English?" At the time we thought Duke s outburst much funnier 
than Cora Madoux song. 

Toward the end of June Duke returned to London; Thelma, 
Mamma, Reggie, and I went on to the Hotel Normandy in Deau- 
ville, where we had planned to stay until time to sail for home. 
Reggie and I found Deauville a delightful, peaceful change from 
the Paris pace. The official season had opened, but the holiday 
crowds had not yet arrived. Deauville only begins to seethe on 
the great national holiday, the Fourteenth of July, when fire 
works and a day and night of street dancing announce officially 
that fun making is a democratic right. 

It was a joy to see little Gloria, brown as a pecan, gleefully 
splashing around in the ocean. She loved the water from the 
moment of her first dip, and she was fearless. The only protest 
to come from her was a loud howl when I took her out. 

Mamma, however, would complain to me that the splashing 
was too much excitement for this "delicate child." So much 
exertion would be sure to give Gloria nightmares. Mamma would 
never, no, never, have allowed her children, who were strong 
and healthy "Thank God! "any such folly. I really didn t see 
how she figured that out, as she d always told me I was the puny 
one of the family, being born without nails and weighing under 
four pounds. 

This was the only time I saw Reggie really angry at Mamma. 
"Laura," he shouted, "you are being perfectly ridiculous! There 
is nothing the matter with my baby. She s a perfectly healthy, 
happy little girl. What are you trying to do, scare your daughter 
half out of her wits? " 

His tone must have startled Mamma, for she quickly said, "Of 
course not." It was only that she loved the baby more than life 
that she d kill herself if anything happened to "the little one." 



At this ridiculous remark, Reggie lost his temper completely. 
"Don t be a fool, Mrs. Morgan," he said. "We are perfectly 
capable of knowing what is good or not for our baby." 

Mamma realized she had gone too far. "It s only because I love 
you all so much," she said, almost pathetically. 

She never again breathed this "love motif" in Reggie s pres 
ence, but I, unaware of its insidious far-reaching, was to hear it 
daily for many years to come. 

At luncheon one day Thelma, with an innocent air, announced 
that Duke Furness possibly would be joining us for the weekend. 
Knowing that since the day they met he had rarely been out of 
her sight, Reggie and I were amused by her attempt at non 

We dined at the Deauville Casino, eight of us, the night Duke 
arrived. Reggie and I had invited the Baron and Baroness de 
Rothschild and the Gaikwar of Baroda and his wife. The Gaik- 
war was such a short and unassuming man that it was difficult 
for me to believe that he controlled lands equal in area to most 
European countries, and that his wealth could make the com 
bined Vanderbilt fortunes appear, by comparison, no more than 
the savings in a thrift account. 

After dinner we all went to the gambling rooms. These rooms 
did not have the glitter or the impressive decor of Monte Carlo, 
but what they lacked in this respect was more than made up for 
by the extravagance of the women s gowns and the patrons 
almost wanton disregard of money. It would seem that during 
these mad postwar years the sole idea of most players was to get 
rid of the "filthy stuff" as fast as they could it was only "paper," 
after all. No one turned a hair when Hannibal de Mesa, the 
Selfridges, or the Dolly sisters would calmly lose or win two or 
three million francs on the turn of a card. 

Thelma and I, who had never played chemin de fer or bac 
carat, were scared to death until we found a modest table to try 
our luck, and were thrilled when we both won. 



"Beginner s luck," Duke and Reggie scoffed as we had supper. 

"Sour grapes," we answered. They had both lost. 

The following morning I went to Reggie s room to find out 
what the plans were for the day. As I came in I was horrified to 
see him with a bloodstained handkerchief to his mouth. "It s only 
a nosebleed, dearest," he said. But I knew this was not true; 
obviously the blood was coming from his mouth, 

"Now, Gloria, dearest, don t get yourself all upset," Reggie 
went on. "I assure you this is absolutely nothing. My doctor s 
not worried about it, so why should you be?" 

I was sure he was only saying this to calm me, and I insisted 
we go to Paris at once to see a specialist. Reggie argued that this 
bleeding had been going on for years; and anyway, he said, we 
would be sailing in a few days, and he would rather see his own 
doctor in New York. 

I was hysterical. "What kind of a monster is this doctor of 
yours to let you go on this way, not doing anything about it, not 
even telling me?" 

Reggie finally gave in. "All right," he said, "well go to Paris. 
If we leave today, we can still make the Majestic on the sixth of 

When we reached Paris, I immediately called Ambassador 
Herrick s secretary and asked if he would give me the name of 
fhe Ambassador s doctor. A few minutes later, when I reached 
Dr. Giroux on the telephone, I learned he could not speak a word 
of English, This made matters easier for me. Now Reggie would 
have to let me go with him as interpreter. 

After examining Reggie, Dr. Giroux told him that his state of 
health was far from good, and in his opinion could be serious if 
he did not take care of himself at once. Observing that I was on 
the verge of tears, he added, "I m sure, Mrs. Vanderbilt, that if 
Mr. Vanderbilt will consent to take the cure at Vichy these 
minor hemorrhages will stop altogether." 


On the way back to the hotel I repeated to Reggie all that 
Dr. Giroux had said. Reggie refused point-black to take the 
cure. How could he? He had to be back in Newport in time 
for the horse show. I tried to coax him, but he was adamant. It 
was not until I refused flatly to go back to America with him 
that he gave in. 

I telephoned Mamma at once and told her the change in plans, 
and that we thought it best for little Gloria to stay on in Deau- 
ville during the three weeks Reggie would be taking the cure 
at Vichy. She was greatly concerned, but told me not to worry 
about anything. "Your place," she said, "is with your husband." 

Poor Reggie religiously swilled gallons of the waters, which he 
said were "only fit to rot your boots," and he classified the diet 
as "foul." All in all, he hated every moment of Vichy, but 
while there he never had a drink. I didn t mind his grousing; 
I saw him improving daily. 

The day before we left Vichy, Dr. Binet, the attending phy 
sician, asked to see me alone. He told me, underlining every 
word, that Reggie did not seem to understand the seriousness of 
his illness. He said he could carry on his normal life with the 
exception that he must positively give up any kind of hard liquor. 

"Can t he drink anything?" I asked him. 

"A little champagne or any of the light wines with his meals. 
I have explained all this to your husband, chere Madame, but he 
only laughs at me. I feel it my duty to tell you that I fear the 
consequences if he does not carry out my orders." 

On my way back to the hotel, I was both relieved and worried. 
It was all very well for the doctor to say "Stop." How could he 
understand a country wallowing in the throes of a puritanical 
prohibition? How could I get Reggie to stop this habit of years? 

How could I keep tabs on Reggie? How would I know what 
he ordered at the Reading Room, Brook, Yale, Metropolitan, or 
his other clubs? I longed to be able to keep him in Europe for 



another year. But this was only wishful thinking; I knew he 
would never agree. 
We sailed on the Leviathan on August 6. 


When Gloria and Reggie sailed for Newport, taking little 
Gloria and Mamma with them, I decided to stay on in Paris. 
The reason was Duke, to whom by now I was deeply at 
tached. Duke was a startling change from Junior and Dick, 
the only other men I had loved. Here was a man who combined 
boldness, strength, frankness, and imagination with another ele 
mentone that I had not yet been close to power. There seemed 
to be nothing he could not do. 

At dinner one night in the little apartment I had taken near 
the Etoile I happened to mention I liked plover eggs. The next 
evening Duke arrived with a basketful. He had had them flown 
over from Holland for me. 

Duke came over to Paris as often as business would allow, and 
most weekends. On fine days we would motor to Versailles or 
Fontainebleau for lunch, or we would discover little out-of-the- 
way restaurants on the Left Bank. We dined, usually, at Giro s, 
Le Chateau de Madrid, or the Cafe de Paris. 

It was exciting going out with Duke. Wherever we went, 
"Milord" was always bowed, by the maitre d hotel, to the best 
table. I m afraid I was somewhat smug and pleased when women 
would look up with what I thought a little envy as we entered a 
restaurant. Traveling with him was almost like traveling with 
royalty. We would be met by tophatted stationmasters and 
escorted to our compartments; we would be followed by secre 
taries and two valets. I once asked him if one valet valeted the 
other. "You know, dear," he answered, "I think you re nearly 
bloody well right at that." 

When Duke wasn t in Paris, he would bombard me with tele- 


phone calls, telegrams, urging me not to stay up too late, or to 
take care of myself. By this time I didn t really want to see or 
go out with anybody else. At twenty-one what girl would not 
be flattered or impressed by such attention particularly when 
it was showered on her by one of England s most eligible peers? 

Duke often talked to me about his two children, AverUl and 
Dick, whom at the time I had not met. He gave me the impres 
sion that Averill, his daughter, then seventeen, was his favorite. 
This surprised me, as most Englishmen dote on their son and 
heir. Dick (he had been christened Christopher) was then four 
teen, and at school at Eton. 

Duke invited me to stay at Glen Affric, a shooting lodge he 
had in the north of Scotland not far from Inverness, for the 
"Glorious Twelfth/ as the British call the day the season for 
grouse and duck shooting opens. 

Elise and I arrived in London the morning of the day we 
were to go up north. Duke was away on business and was 
not to pick me up until later that evening, to take us to the train 
for Scotland. I was glad of the rest, as our trip over from Paris 
had been rough. 

At the station that night Duke, as usual, was surrounded by 
his staff. Three footmen and two housemaids from his house in 
London were coming with us to reinforce the staff already at 
Affric Lodge. 

I was no sooner settled in my compartment than Price, one of 
his valets, came and informed me, "with His Lordship s compli 
ments," that dinner was ready whenever I was. Winking at 
Elise, I said, "My compliments to His Lordship. Please tell him 
I shall be along shortly." 

"Well, Elise," I said, after the valet had left, "this is a far cry 
from our little house on Hawthorne Avenue in California." 

"As it should be, Madame," Elise said approvingly. 

The compartments on English trains are much smaller than 
ours in America, and I was surprised to see one of these turned 



into a dining room. The berth had been covered over with a 
white tablecloth and set as we should have expected it had we 
been dining at the Ritz in Paris. There was champagne in ice 
buckets. A picnic basket packed with delicacies had been ordered 
and brought aboard the train. 

Duke and I solemnly sat down side by side on two suitcases 
and were served this "feast" by one of the footmen. Price did 
the honors with the champagne. 

As I looked around, I said, "What, no plover eggs?" 

"You wonderful darling," said Duke, taking me in his arms. 
"I love you so very much." 

I don t remember that Duke ever asked me to marry him, but 
from that moment we both took it for granted that we would 

Davis, Duke s chauffeur, met us at Inverness in a gray open 
Rolls at the ungodly hour of 6 A.M. Inverness, the chief town 
of the Highlands, is at the mouth of the Ness on Beauly Firth. 
Rumor had it that the Loch-Ness monster had been sighted only 
recently. And as we drove past the Ness, I kept my eyes glued 
to it, but the monster did not pay His Lordship the compliment 
of a nod. 

Duke s hunting lodge was some forty miles north of Inverness, 
and the road ran through some of the most beautiful country 
in Scotland. To me, at the time, it seemed the most beautiful 
country in the world. Craggy mountains climbed sharply from 
the clear blue water of the lochs to disappear into the gray-blue 
mists that banded the sky. Sitting next to Duke in the open 
car that early morning, I was completely happy. I wanted to tell 
him what I felt, but I was afraid of seeming sentimental; and I 
knew that Duke, like most Englishmen, had a horror of senti 

Duke interrupted my thoughts. He apparently thought it wise 
to brief me on the household arrangements at Aff ric Lodge. "You 
know," he said, "though the place spreads over a few thousand 


acres, the house itself is small-and it s primitive. It has no electric 
lights and no telephone. So prepare yourself." The warning was 
unnecessary. Duke had already surrounded me with luxuries 
and with the service and attention that went with a feudal 
barony; who was I to carp now at a few discomforts? Besides, 
knowing Duke, I could well assume that he had substituted a 
thousand candles for each possible electric bulb and a private 
courier service for the absent telephone. "Besides you," he went 
on, "there will be only a handful of guests; there will be Lady 
Wodehouse, Dr. Gavin, Major Clark, Averill, a school friend 
of AverilPs-and, of course, Dick." 

The mention of the others suddenly brought me back to 
reality. In my excitement I had forgotten that there were other 
people; I was daydreaming in a fantasy world that had only us 
as inhabitants. Now I was reminded that Duke had a flesh-and- 
blood world of his own, and in this world were his children. 
"Darling," I said, now apprehensive, "what about Averill and 
Dick? Suppose they don t like me?" 

Duke s reaction to my fears was typical. "Why the bloody 
hell shouldn t they like you?" he spluttered, then went on tell 
ing me about the fine points of stalking, about the number of 
stags that had been bagged last season, and something or other 
about the "far beat" whatever that is. But I listened with only 
one ear; I had my worries. I could think of at least three reasons 
why the children might not like me. Suppose they didn t want 
their father to remarry? Suppose Averill didn t cotton to the 
idea of a stepmother only two or three years older than herself? 
Even worse, suppose they just didn t take to me? 

I was thankful to see we were turning into the driveway. All 
these supposings were malting me wretched. Duke noticed that 
I looked worried. Thinking it was because I was shy at meeting 
Margaret Wodehouse and Dr. Gavin, he said, "They re old 
friends of mine and I know you will like them. Anyway, they 



won t get here till the day after tomorrow. There s only Charlie 
Clark and the children here now." 

Charlie Clark, Duke s controller, I had met in Paris, and I 
liked him. It was the children that worried me. 

When we entered the drawing room, the only person there 
was a handsome young boy of fourteen, tall and slender, with the 
merriest, bluest eyes and the reddest red hair. 

Duke introduced us. "Thelma," he said, "this is Dick. I want 
you two to be good friends." 

Dick responded in choicest Etonese. "Dad has talked about 
you often," he said. "Topping you could come up." Then 
turning to his father, he added, "Averill is out stalking. The old 
girl said something about she d try and be home early and was 
sorry not to be here to meet you, but one of the gillies had 
spotted a good ten pointer on the home beat and she and Olivia 
have gone out after it." 

After freshening up, Duke, Dick, Charlie Clark, and I sat 
down to a most delicious breakfast of porridge, kippers, and 
hot scones. The long drive in the open car had made me raven 
ous, and I ate almost as much as Dick did. This, for some un 
known reason, seemed to please him. As we finished, Dick asked 
me if I would like to walk over to the stables and see the new 
stag pony his father had just given him. 

I noticed Duke smiled a little as he said, "Run along, I have 
some business to talk over with Charlie. We ll join you later." 

As we walked toward the stables, Dick talked a mile a 
minute. How he loved being up here! How he hated Eton! 
How he wished he could hunt every winter! It was only during 
the Chrismas holidays, he told me, when he went to Burrough 
Court, their home near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, that 
he ever got a chance to hunt. Averill had all the luck. "Have you 
ever seen her out hunting? No, of course not. How silly of me. 
You ve never been to Melton. She s top-ho! The very best." 

Little did I know then, and how thankful I am I didn t, that 


this boy I was to get to know and love so much, walking and 
chatting so gaily about when he would be old enough to hunt 
all winter, would one day give up his life selflessly and heroically 
for his country. 

Averill and Olivia (whose surname I can t remember) arrived 
while we were having tea. They were both in tweed suits, but 
it wasn t hard to tell which was Duke s daughter. Averill was 
tall and slender with a rather boyish figure; and she had the 
same pale blue eyes as her father. She wasn t what one would 
call a beautiful girl. Her features were sharp. Her walk gave 
the impression she would be happier in a riding habit than in 
a ball gown. Her beautiful long auburn curly hair reached half 
way down her back. 

As Duke introduced us, I was quite sure the two girls had 
discussed me and had made up their minds they weren t going 
to like me. I realized that Averill wasn t going to be won over 

Dinner that night was not as pleasant as breakfast had been. 
The atmosphere was a little strained. Averill and Olivia talked 
and giggled together and only included me in their conversation 
every now and then, when politeness demanded it. I was sorry 
that Averill seemed so distant, for I knew how important it 
was to Duke that she should like me. In his way he loved 
Averill and Dick very much; ever since their mother, whom he 
had married when only twenty, died, he had done all that he 
could to make them happy. I say "in his way," because he had 
a funny way of showing his affection. The way he would bully 
them and swear at them shocked me. But it didn t take me long 
to realize that his swearing and cursing were often terms of 
endearment. His hatredor fear of sentimentality caused him 
to express his deepest feelings in reverse English. 

It had been planned that the following day Duke, Dick, and 
Charlie Clark were to go stalking. Averill and Olivia were to 
keep me company. I was quite sure that this was the last thing 


the girls wanted to do, but they were stuck with me. I remember 
they left me severely alone all that morning, and it was only 
during lunch that I decided something had to be done about the 
tension. I suggested that, after lunch, we might take a little 
walk. I could see this idea didn t please them at all; I was sure 
they had made other plans, in which I was not included. 

I didn t blame Averill too much. Her only interests were 
riding, hunting, and the outdoor life; and here was a woman who 
talked about "taking a little walk," a woman who did not even 
know which side of a horse to get on. And this woman had come 
into her father s life. 

The lodge was situated on the edge of Loch Affric, which 
was some fifteen miles long. A motorboat was used to take 
guests to the "Far Beat," which was where Duke was stalking 
that day. I suggested we walk up a bit along the loch, Averill 
and Olivia started off at a brisk pace; I kept right along with 
them. After a little while Averill said, with the solemnity of a 
Galileo announcing that the earth moves, "Funny, your stride 
is the same as ours," Then, the ice broken, she transformed her 
discovery into a philosophical observation. "It s so much more 
fun walking when one doesn t have to wait for those lagging 
behind, don t you think?" 

I thought so, indeed, and from that moment on we were 
all friends. It seems strange, in retrospect, that an event as insig 
nificant as this could demolish the psychological barrier that 
stood between us; but the emotional lines that pull people to 
gether or apart seem linked with the small, not the outstanding, 
incidents of life; and their workings often seem indifferent to 
logic or sense. 

We chatted together like three schoolgirls on a picnic. I told 
them about the life Gloria and I had had at the Convent, and 
about Reverend Mother Dammen. (This seemed to have a 
special interest for Averill, who had never even been to a board 
ing school.) I told them about Hollywood, about Gloria s and 


my experience as "Northern Lights." I ended with the account 
of my fantastic experience with a horse in Central Park. "Thelma," 
Averill said, "tomorrow Fm going to teach you to ride." I was 
now plain "Thelma" all the stiffness, all the formality, all 
hostility were gone. 

"How much farther is it," I asked, "to the place where Duke 
is to meet the motorboat?" 

"Some four or five miles from here, I think," said Averill. 

"Let s go meet him and surprise him." 

And so it was that when Duke came along he saw three tired, 
laughing friends. We may have surprised Duke, but I had sur 
prised myself even more. I had walked fifteen miles and every 
one to me was worth the walking. 

Lady Wodehouse and Dr. Gavin arrived the next day. Mar 
garet Wodehouse later became at the death of her father-in-law 
Lady Kimberley. She was tall, slender, and fair, a typical 
English beauty. 

G. T. Bulkley Gavin, a Scotsman, was Duke s best friend and 
his confidant. I thought he looked at me appraisingly through 
his monocled eye. I was sure Duke had told him about us, and 
I was sure that he did not approve of Duke s marrying such a 
young woman and, what was worse, an American. Yet, as he 
stood there, I thought his courtly manners and old-world turn 
of phrase were charming; he was like a character in some 
Edwardian novel. 

Averill, true to her promise, started giving me riding lessons. 
This time I wasn t nervous; Averill was an angel of patience 
with me, and anyway all I rode were ponies. After I was mar 
ried, she tried very hard to teach me to hunt, but finally gave 
it up as a hopeless job. I certainly was never meant to go career 
ing over five-foot fences across open country. As she tactfully 
put it, "You sit a fauteuil more gracefully than a hunter, darling." 
Nor did I enjoy stalking, but I often went with Duke; it 
pleased him and I loved being with him. 


The Highlanders around Glen Affric are mostly all Catholics. 
And unlike other Catholic countries, where Sunday after church 
is a day of fun and play, Highland Scotland dedicates this day to 
prayer and solemnity. Duke, who had no fixed ideas about re 
ligion, and was accustomed to doing what he wanted, was frus 
trated on Sundays, when nothing would persuade the High 
landers even to saddle a pony. 

Time hung heavily on these days at least until Charlie Clark 
came up with the idea of throwing empty tin cans a little way 
up the loch. As they came drifting down past us, we d take 
pot shots at them. It was great fun, and I discovered to my amaze 
ment that I was a very good shot. I was delighted when Duke and 
the children applauded my marksmanship. 

In time Gav s reserve began to thaw. We would take long 
walks through the heather, and he would talk about Duke and 
their friendship through the years. He also told me all about 
the death of Daisy, Duke s first wife, on Duke s yacht, The 
Sapphire, on their way to Cannes after Daisy s unsuccessful 
brain operation in London. They were forced to bury her at 
sea. There were no embalming facilities on the yacht, and they 
were too far out to turn back to England and not near enough 
to Cannes to make port. Gav told me the doctors who had at 
tended Daisy in London realized she did not have long to live, 
but they had told her the operation was successful. Her one 
desire was to go to the South of France to recuperate. Duke 
had taken the Grand Duke Michael s Villa Kasbeck in Cannes, 
and The Sapphire was chosen as the best and most comfortable 
means of getting Daisy there. Dear Gav must have been very 
fond of her; there was a deep sadness in his eyes as he reminisced 

By the time we left Affric Lodge Gav and I were friends- 
a friendship I prize above all others. There has never been a time 
in the last thirty years that, when I needed him, Gav has not been 
there, ready to advise, sometimes to scold, but always to under 


Duke and I came back one beautiful September evening tired 
and happy. Duke had bagged a record "Royal" stag that we had 
been stalking for days. As I went up to change for tea, I noticed 
that Charlie Clark looked preoccupied, and I heard him ask 
Duke if he could talk to him. I didn t pay much attention; I 
thought this had something to do with business. When I came 
down, however, I found Duke sitting alone, head bent, a tele 
gram in his hand. 

"Thelma, darling, come sit here beside me," he said quietly, 
"I have bad news for you." As if reading my mind, he added, 
"No, dear, not Gloria." 



Til See You Tomorrow" 


When Reggie and I arrived in New York, I telephoned his 
mother at once to tell her how successful the cure at Vichy had 
been, and how well Reggie looked. Mrs. Vanderbilt was over 
joyed to hear the good news. I also told her we were motoring to 
Sandy Point the next day. She suggested that on the way we 
stop at The Breakers for dinner. "That would be wonderful," 
I said. "We re both longing to see you. Expect us around six- 

Before we left, Reggie had made arrangements for Mamma, 
little Gloria, and the nurse to leave on the one-o clock train for 
Providence, where a car was to meet them and take them on to 
the farm. It was all so simple, we thought; but nothing was 
simple with Mamma around. At the last moment she decided 
she had an errand to run. She sent the nurse on ahead with little 
Gloria, telling her she would meet them in the compartment. 

Mamma boarded the train a few seconds before it pulled 
out. Reaching the drawing room, she found it empty. Pressing 
every bell she could find, she screamed that the baby had been 
kidnaped. The conductor and the porter both tried to tell her 
that no baby had gotten on at Grand Central. 

It was at this point that Margaret Power, who by chance 
was also on the train, realized that it was Mamma who was 
causing all the trouble. Margaret was very funny when she 


told us about it later on. It seemed that Mamma kept on scream 
ing that the baby had been kidnaped, demanded the train be 
stopped at once, yelled at everybody to "do something, not just 
stand there!" Conductors and porters scattered in every direc 
tion, only to come back and report no baby! "Oh, my poor 
baby, what have they done to her? " Mamma wailed. "If I ever 
get hold of that fool of a nurse, I ll cut her throat. I ll kill her." 

Margaret tried to calm her and sagely suggested they get off 
at One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street and telephone the 
hotel. Something may have detained them. "Don t tell me that," 
Mamma protested, "I ve always said you can t trust nurses, and 
this fool is always picking up and talking with strange people. 
Oh, why did I ever leave my baby alone?" 

By this time they had reached One Hundred and Twenty-fifth 
Street, left the train, and gotten to a telephone. Mamma shouted 
half in Spanish, half in English to the poor telephone operator, 
who couldn t make head or tail of what she was saying. Mar 
garet finally took the phone from her and got the Ritz Hotel. 
The manager informed her that Reggie and I had left by car, 
and that the nurse and the baby were on their way to meet 
,Mrs. Morgan. 

"I knew it! I told you so!" Mamma raved. "She s been kid 
naped." Snatching the phone from Margaret, she ordered the 
startled operator to give her the nearest police station. "My 
baby, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt," she announced to the police 
clerk, "is being kidnaped and nobody is doing anything about it." 

The Daily News the following day reported: "Enough action 
was crowded in the next half -hour to cause the director of a 
motion-picture thriller to turn handsprings from sheer elation." 

What had really happened was that Mamma s "fool of a 
nurse" had taken the wrong train, but she and the baby by 
then were safely on their way to Providence. 

When we left the Ritz early that morning it was hot, humid, 
and gummy. The road from New York to Newport certainly 



cannot, even in the wildest stretch of the imagination, be called 
one of the scenic wonders of the world. It is flat, dull, uninterest 
ing. But I did enjoy the breeze as the fast-moving car got into 
open country. Reggie, on the other hand, did not seem to enjoy 
anything. He groused all the way up. For hours he talked of 
nothing but the horse show how he had let everybody down, 
all on account of that "damn re" he had needed as much as 
he needed a hole in his head. After all, he should have been 
back three weeks ago. Now he would have to cram hours of 
work, naturally badly done, into a few days. 

I listened to this tirade with a sympathetic ear, but remember 
ing Dr. Binet s words, I was uneasy. The last thing I wanted 
was to have him throw himself headlong into the old routine. I 
had made up my mind to do very little entertaining and accept 
as few invitations as possible. I was determined Reggie should 
get all the rest he could. 

As we were nearing Newport, Reggie, to my consternation, 
announced that he had to see the secretary of the horse show 
at the Reading Room. Would I mind dropping him and going 
on to The Breakers alone? He would join me there later. 

"Reggie," I pleaded, "your mother will be so hurt! The drive 
has been so long, you must be tired* Can t it wait rill the morn 
ing?" But nothing I said would make him change his mind. 

It was not till long after eight that he finally arrived. 

The next two weeks were easygoing, carefree. Reggie and I 
would watch the morning exercise of the horses at the Ring, have 
long conversations with Mr. Bone about the management of the 
farm, have informal buffet luncheons, then take a dip in the 
Seaconnet River from our private little beach that we all enjoyed 
so much more than stuffy Bailey s Beach. Even Reggie begrudged 
the time he had to spend on his beloved horse show during these 
lovely, lazy days. 

Little Gloria and I had a wonderful time exploring the farm, 


followed by little Fortitude yapping at our heels. Little Fortitude 
was a tiny golden-brown Pomeranian that Reggie had brought 
up to my room one morning, the year before, in one of Forti 
tude s championship cups. It was very funny to see Fortitude 
being chased around the paddock by his diminutive namesake. 

Little Gloria loved chasing the geese. I had a hard time keep 
ing myself from laughing as I watched her waddling after them. 
She was so little and trying so hard to keep up with diem. 

The horse show over and a great success, Newport prepared 
to close its shutters for another year, another season. Reggie and 
I had planned to remain a few weeks longer so that he could tie 
up loose ends, and also get ready for the National Horse Show 
in New York. "After that," he said apologetically, "I promise 
you you won t even know there is such an animal as a horse." 

Reggie and I were playing with little Gloria one afternoon in 
the garden when I saw Mamma coming toward us, sobbing. I 
was afraid that she might not be able to control herself and that 
she might scare little Gloria; I asked Reggie to take the baby 

Between sobs she told me she had just received a cable from 
her Aunt Rosa in Santiago, Chile, telling her that her mother 
was dying and that if she ever wanted to see her alive again she 
had better come at once. I was surprised at the tone of the cable. 
Then I remembered that her twin aunts, Rosa Blanca and Blanca 
Rosa, had never forgiven her for not making the slightest effort 
to see their sister, her mother, for the past thirty years. Mamma s 
recent excuse, they wrote, was even more ludicrous than the ones 
in the past. "Ridiculous!" Aunt Rosa had written at the time 
Papa had gone to Buenos Aires. "Your place is with your hus 
band. At least you would be on the South American continent 
and could come and see your ailing mother as a dutiful daughter 
should." Mamma had shown me this letter. But the only impres 
sion it had made on me at the time was that my Great- Aunt Rosa 


and Mamma were very much alike. They both had a genius for 

Mamma was crying hysterically when Reggie rejoined us. 
"Oh, my poor mother. What shall I do? I have sacrificed my 
whole life to my children. And now she is dying thousands of 
miles away, with nobody near to close those dear eyes. What am 
I going to do? How can I go so far away alone?" 

Reggie looked at me inquiringly and whispered, "What is 
your mother raving about?" 

"Mamma has just received a cable and it s bad news. Her 
mother is seriously ill and is not expected to live." 

"Oh, I m so sorry, Laura, to hear it." Reggie was genuinely 
affected. "Is there anything we can do?" 

To my surprise, Mamma asked Reggie if he would let me go 
with her. I must say this request staggered Reggie, too, but seeing 
Mamma so distressed, he consented. 

I was torn between my desire to be of help to Mamma and my 
unwillingness to leave Reggie, knowing that he also needed me. 

Later in our room that night I told Reggie of my feelings. But 
he argued that Mamma had done so much for us when I was ill 
after the baby; now that she needed me, I ought to go. "She 
really should not be alone on the trip down there," he said. 

I loved my mother very much and really wanted to be with 
her; I was also grateful to Reggie for his unselfishness. 

In no time all arrangements were made. Two days before we 
were to sail Mamma and I left early in the morning for New 
York. Reggie had an important meeting that afternoon. It was 
decided that he would join us the following day, Wednesday, 
the fifth of September, to see us off for Valparaiso. 

Mamma was already waiting impatiently in the car when 

Reggie and I came out of the house. I had at that moment a 

strange presentiment that if I should leave something dreadful 

might happen. But I put aside my feeling; what could happen? 



Besides, I knew Mamma would not go to Santiago without me, 
and I felt that she should go. After all, Grandmamma was in her 
nineties, and even if she were not actually dying now, this would 
probably be the last time Mamma would see her alive. 

As Reggie and I were standing by the car waiting for my maid 
to come with the last-minute things one always seems to forget, 
Reggie told me that Forest March, a friend of ours, had just 
called, and learning that I would be in New York, had suggested 
taking me to the theater. Reggie had tentatively accepted for me. 
He also told me he had telephoned Colton, his secretary, to 
instruct him to meet us at the Marguery Hotel with our passports 
and to stand by in case I should need him for anything. Kissing 
me good-by, he said, "I ll see you tomorrow." 

Mamma went straight to the hotel on our arrival in New York, 
and I went off to do some last-minute shopping. On my return 
to the apartment, I telephoned Forest to tell him I would be 
ready by seven. I also cabled Thelma, telling her that our grand 
mother was ill, and that Mamma and I were leaving for Chile. 
Then I telephoned Reggie to tell him we were all set and to kiss 
the baby good night for me. But when I asked to speak to him, 
Norton told me that Reggie was resting; he had not been feeling 
well all day, and had complained of a sore throat. Should he put 
the call through or could Mr. Vanderbilt call me later? I told 
him not to disturb him. 

As I hung up, the same strange feeling I d had earlier in the 
day came over me. Was Norton telling me the truth? Was it 
just a sore throat? Had Reggie told him to tell me this? 

I knew that his mother would know and tell me. I telephoned 
her. "Hello, is that you, Gloria dear?" I heard my mother-in- 
law s calm, sweet voice. "I m so sorry to hear about your grand 
mother s illness and hope it is not as serious as you think, dear." 

Before she could go on, I interrupted, "Please, Mrs. Vander 
bilt, I m worried. I ve just spoken to Norton and he tells me 



Reggie is not well I didn t want to disturb him, but I must know. 
Have you heard from him? Is he all right? " 

"Yes, Gloria. There s nothing to worry about," Mrs. Vander- 
bilt said. "Reggie is perfectly all right. I talked with him just a 
little over an hour ago." 

As I hung up, I said to myself I must really stop this nonsense, 
making mountains out of molehills. 

Forest March picked me up at seven on the dot. We had a 
quick but excellent dinner at Jack and Charlie s, better known 

as "2 1." 

Forest was one of the tallest men I have ever known; he must 
have been well over six foot four. We had been friends for ages. 
It was he who took me to my very first prize fight, the Dempsey- 
Firpo match. I had never seen such an enormous crowd. When 
Dempsey came into the ring, the crowd stood up en masse, and 
kept standing and screaming through the entire first round. I 
couldn t see a thing. "I wish I were as tall as you are," I told 
Forest, "I can t see anything." "We ll soon fix that," he said, as 
the bell sounded for the second round. Everybody stood cheer 
ing and yelling. Forest picked me up and stood me on my chair. 
Just at this moment a roar went up from the crowd. We turned 
to see what had happened, and saw Firpo flat on his face, the 
referee counting him out. Poor Forest, I had made him miss the 
most sensational fight of the century. 

I don t know how it happened, but when we were in the 
theater, just before the end of the second act, I was gripped with 
such a premonition of disaster that I turned to Forest, and, 
clutching his arm, hardly being able to get my words out, I said, 
"Take me out of here. I want to go home at once." Before he 
could answer me I was halfway out of the theater. This time I 
knew I was right. This time I knew it wasn t my imagination. 
I just had to go to Reggie. 

In the car on the way to the hotel Forest anxiously asked me 


if I were ill. "No, it s Reggie," I said. "I know something has 
happened to him." 

"Don t be silly, Gloria! Reggie s fine. I talked to him only this 

"What s happened to you?" Mamma asked, as I rushed into 
our hotel suite. I rushed on to my bedroom without answering 
her. Slamming the door, I made straight for the telephone. I 
really must try to control myself, I thought, as I waited for the 
long-distance telephone operator to put me through. Would 
they never answer? After what seemed to be an eternity, I heard 
a strange, impersonal woman s voice. 

"I m Mrs. Vanderbilt," I said. "Who are you?" 

"I m Mr. Vanderbilt s nurse." 

"Oh, my God!" I screamed. "What s happened?" 

"Please, Mrs. Vanderbilt, don t get upset. Mr. Vanderbilt has 
had a slight hemorrhage. I would let you speak to him, but the 
doctor gave him a sedative and he is now sleeping." 

I didn t care who told me not to get upset or worried, I was 
determined to go to Reggie at once. I asked the nurse to tell 
Norton to have the car meet the midnight train from New York 
at Providence, I would be on it. 

"But, Mrs. Vanderbilt," she protested, "Mr. Vanderbilt told 
me that should you phone, I was to tell you not to worry, that 
he would meet you in New York as planned." 

"Please, nurse, do as I ask," I said. Nothing, neither she, 
Reggie, nor anyone else could have prevented my going to 

The first thing I saw as I pulled up to the house, at five the 
next morning, was my mother-in-law s car. My heart nearly 
stopped. Reggie was worse; otherwise why would Mrs. Vander 
bilt be at the house at this hour? 

I rang the bell and waited. Norton let me in. He stared at me, 
and there was a strange, bewildered look on his face, as if he 
didn t know me. 



"What is it?" I asked. "What is the matter?" 

Norton s lips trembled. "Mr. Vanderbilt died three minutes 

I was shivering; my head ached. I was vaguely aware that Mrs. 
Vanderbilt was gently stroking my hand. I felt myself floating 
through vast empty space. The only thing that seemed real was 
Norton s voice repeating over and over in an endless monotone, 
"Mr. Vanderbilt died three minutes ago, three minutes ago, three 
minutes ago." 

I tried to force myself to think clearly. This was nonsense. It 
was only yesterday morning that Reggie had said so confidently, 
"I ll see you tomorrow, dearest.* The word "tomorrow" brought 
me back with a start. This wasn t a dream; this was cold reality. 
Reggie was dead. I would never see him again. 

I turned my face to the wall and sobbed wildly, Mrs. Vander 
bilt turned me around. "Gloria, dear/ she said, with what seemed 
to me unbelievable composure, "you must really try to pull 
yourself together." 

I was shocked. Her words sounded so cold and harsh. How 
could this mother sit there so calmly and tell me to pull myself 
together? Had she no feelings at all? 

I sat up and looked at her. It was only then that I realized the 
agony she, too, was going through. Yet her face looked as if it 
had been carved out of marble. Not a muscle moved* Only her 
tragic, tearless eyes reflected the anguish and despair she felt. 

I was a little ashamed as she took me in her arms. I shouldn t 
have been so quick in my criticism of this mother, whose heart 
I knew must be breaking. She held me tight. And for the first 
and only time I saw great tears roll down her cheeks. She didn t 
sob. She didn t say a word. She didn t make a sound. 

After Mrs. Vanderbilt left, I tried my best to control myself. 
I knew I should not go on like this but, try as 1 might, my mind 
kept racing back to the tragic events of the past few hours. I 
I5 6 


blamed Mamma, myself everyone. "I should never have left 
him! "I cried. 

I was still reproaching myself when I heard a knock on the 
door. "What is it?" I asked. "What s happened?" 

It was Dr. George Boiling-Lee. "You really should be lying 
down and resting, Gloria. You have had a terrible shock," he said 
kindly, as he led me to the sofa. 

I was surprised at the calmness of my own voice as I asked him 
please to tell me what had happened. He probably realized that 
any further words of sympathy would only make me break 
down again. He told me that Norton had telephoned him at 
about ten the night before, and said that Mr. Vanderbilt was ill. 
Would he please come at once? On his arrival he found Reggie 
had had a slight hemorrhage, no worse than any of the others he 
had treated him for. But he thought it advisable for Reggie to go 
to the hospital in the morning for a general checkup. Reggie, he 
told me, had refused point-blank. He had insisted there was 
nothing the matter with him and that Norton was nothing but 
a fuddy-duddy and a meddlesome old maid. He was going to 
New York in the morning as planned, and that was that! 

It was not until Dr. Lee told him that he was going to get in 
touch with me that Reggie agreed at least to have a nurse that 

At two in the morning the nurse had telephoned him that 
Reggie was hemorrhaging badly; she thought it advisable for 
him to come at once. After calling the hospital to have someone 
stand by to give a blood transfusion, should it prove necessary, 
Dr. Lee had tried to reach me in New York and was told I had 
already left for Newport. 

I had been crying softly as the doctor spoke. All of a sudden 
I felt faint; my hands were cold and clammy; I was trembling, 
and I could hardly breathe. 

"Come, Gloria," Dr. Lee said. "I m going to get you a seda- 



rive. You really must rest or you ll crack up." As he rang for 
the nurse, he told me to please believe him that everything had 
been done that possibly could have been done* 

Drowsily I said, "Doctor, I want to go and see Reggie." 

Vaguely I heard him say, "A little later, Gloria." 

The next thing I remember was sitting up in bed and hearing 
Dr. Boiling-Lee s voice saying, "Would you like me to take you 
to your busied now?" 

When we reached Reggie s room, I told the doctor I would 
prefer to go in alone. 

During the hours that followed, the house became a maelstrom. 
People kept arriving and leaving; wreaths and flowers were de 
livered every few minutes; the telephone was constantly ringing. 
Sooner or later, I realized, I must attend to all the obligations 
these attentions involved; and I would have to face the hundred 
responsibilities suddenly thrust upon me. 

Mrs. Vanderbilt returned to The Breakers, taking little Gloria 
with her. I was thankful As Gloria was only a year and a half 
old, she could not realize the loss of her father, but she might 
sense the oppressive sorrow in this house of mourning. 

While I was having breakfast the following morning, the maid 
announced that Harry Payne Whitney was downstairs. I asked 
her to hand me a bed jacket and told her to bring fresh coffee 
and show Mr. Whitney up, I was relieved he had come. From 
our very first meeting I had liked Harry Whitney and sensed 
that this feeling was reciprocated. For all his impetuosity, his 
jocular ways, and his quick wit, Harry was one of the men most 
respected in Wall Street for business acumen and integrity. I 
was going to need all the help and advice he could give me, 

Over our coffee he was telling me of the arrangements he had 
made for the funeral when Mamma unexpectedly entered the 
room and saw him sitting on the edge of the bed. I can no longer 
recall the precise words Mamma used at this terrible moment, 
but the gist of her outburst was this: I had lost all sense of 


decency. It was unbelievable that I, dressed only in my night 
gown, should receive a man in my bedroom, and it was all the 
more unbelievable that such shameless behavior should occur at 
this of all rimes. 

I have never in my life seen a man angrier than Harry was at 
that moment. His face turned white. He rose and faced her. 
That s enough, Mrs. Morgan!" he said. "I will j&ot stand for 
any more of your damned insinuations. You are a ; meddlesome 
old woman, and, what s more, you are a horrible one." Then 
he walked out of the room. 

Naturally I was in tears. I had gone through too much. Mamma 
then suddenly reversed her stand; she became the obsessed senti 
mentalist, the maudlin mother doing only what was best for 
darling daughter. She tried to explain that I was very young, that 
I didn t understand the ways of the world, and that she was only 
looking after her baby. I interrupted this flow of pathos. I asked 
her to leave me alone; I could not take any more. 

Later that morning Harry returned to my room to resume our 
conversation. He apologized to me for losing his temper. "But 
really, Gloria," he said, "what kind of a mind has your mother 

I explained lamely that Mamma was more foreign than Ameri 
can in her ways, and that her "dear grandmamma" would never 
have approved of such lack of formality. 

"Well, you may be right, Gloria," Harry said dubiously, "but 
watch out. She ll cause you trouble yet. Women like her always 

Then abruptly he changed the subject. "This I know will be 
trying, Gloria, but there are some details that I must talk to you 
about. I have ordered a bronze casket, silvered to Reggie s gray. 
Later this afternoon he will be laid in the large drawing room 
downstairs. I know it will be hard, but you must be down there, 
my dear. Neely and Grace are here. Gertrude went straight to 



her mother at The Breakers from the yacht, after we docked this 
morning. I ve located Reggie s daughter, Cathleen, in Montana. 
She and her husband are on an extended trip with the Clarence 
Mackays in the Canadian Rockies, but Mackay is rushing them 
here by private trains for the funeral The William K Vander- 
bilts are now across the way at Oakland Farms, All of them will 
expect to see you this afternoon," 

Reggie was now lying in the large drawing room downstairs. 
As I entered, I felt the contrast with the still gray room upstairs. 
Masses of American Beauties and lilies banked the walls, and the 
many floral tributes seemed to make death look less grim. Norton 
came quietly in and told me Gertrude and Harry Whitney were 
in the library. Gertrude embraced me warmly saying her mother 
and little Gloria sent their love and reassuring me that the baby 
was getting on famously in her new surroundings. 

The next two days were among the most difficult I have ever 
spent, but I was grateful for the kindness of the many relatives 
and friends who came to offer their condolences. I was especially 
touched when a spokesman for the tradespeople phoned to ask 
if they might call to pay their last respects. 

After a night of fitful sleeping I awoke early on the morning 
of September 7, 1925. The funeral service was to be at St. Mary s 
Episcopal Church in South Portsmouth at ten o clock. Harry had 
promised to be at the house early to relieve me of any last-minute 
arrangements. The plans were that Gertrude would come with 
her mother before the others arrived. 

It was comforting to see Harry waiting for me in the library 
and hear his matter-of-fact voice as he said, "Now, Gloria, 
everything has been attended to and will go off like clockwork. 
There is nothing for you to worry about except yourself." Pat 
ting me on the shoulder, he added, "Hang on, old girl" 

I went into the hall to meet Mrs. Vanderbilt as I heard her car 
in the driveway. She looked so very little in her deep mourning 
1 60 


as she lifted her veil from her face and kissed me. One could see 
the pain she had suffered the last two days; her eyes were sunken 
and red from many tears. No words passed between us as I took 
her to the drawing-room door, opened it, and left her. A short 
time after this Reggie s coffin, blanketed with orchids, was placed 
in the hearse and the funeral cortege left for St. Mary s some two 
miles away. 

The small St. Mary s Church was filled with Reggie s many 
friends. I was impressed with the simplicity and dignity of the 
service conducted by the Reverend James Conover. 

I have little recollection of boarding our private train, which 
was to take us to New York. I do remember removing my hat 
with its heavy crepe veil, and lying down. The train stopped at 
New Haven, where I received the condolences of members of 
the Yale faculty who placed on the coffin a beautiful Yale blue 
floral wreath, with white flowers forming the numerals 1902- 

(The Vanderbilt family has a close association with Yale. 
After the death in college of Reggie s brother, William H., the 
Vanderbilts erected a memorial hall there in his name.) 

We journeyed on to New York. There was a short religious 
ceremony, attended only by members of the immediate family, 
at the Vanderbilt mausoleum in the Moravian Cemetery on 
Staten Island. 

Few words passed between Mamma and me on our way back 
to the house on Seventy-seventh Street. In one of her rare mo 
ments of understanding, she left me alone with my thoughts. I 
suddenly remembered a touching thing that had occurred, and 
the tears that up to then I had been able to control poured forth. 
I saw before me old Norton, who, instead of riding with the rest 
of the staff, had insisted upon walking the whole distance from 
Sandy Point to Portsmouth beside the hearse of the master he 
had loved so well. 



I still remember with gratitude the wonderful tribute paid 
Reggie by his many friends in Newport. As I write this, I have 
before me a clipping from the Sun of September 5, 1925: 





Special Dispatch to the Sun: 

Newport, R.I., Sept. 5. Because of the unexpected death of 
Reginald C. Vanderbilt at Sandy Point Farm yesterday morning, 
the various social events planned have been canceled. AH luncheons 
and dinners yesterday were called off. The annual luncheon and 
shoot at the Clambake Club, of which he was president for a number 
of years, were canceled. The shoot this afternoon was to have been 
for the Cup offered by Walter S. Andrews, the treasurer, and was 
to have been preceded by luncheons there. 

On arriving at the house, Mamma noticed I was near collapse* 
The long, sad day had overtaxed my strength. She immediately 
called the doctor. The diphtheria of two years ago had weakened 
my heart so that the doctor insisted I remain in bed for the next 
three weeks. Little Gloria stayed on at The Breakers with Grand 
mother Vanderbilt until I was well. 

These weeks gave me a chance to straighten out my thoughts. 
I had a lot of decisions to make. The major one centered around 
my year-and-a-half-old baby. Until she legally came of age her 
education and her religious training were my responsibility- 
I was ignorant of the tenets of the Episcopal faith, and after 
much thought I decided I could give Gloria better religious 
guidance in my own faith* I discussed this step with my dear 
Mother Dammen; and on April 7, 1926, 1 took little Gloria to be 


baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, at Manhattanville, Con 
vent of the Sacred Heart, in the same beautiful chapel that held 
so many fond childhood memories for me. Gloria behaved like a 
perfect little angel as Father Evan Duffy of Fordham University 
christened her. Throughout the ceremony, for no reason that I 
could see, Mamma was in tears. 

During this period the only people I saw were James Deering, 
our friend and Reggie s lawyer, and "Uncle George" Wicker- 
sham, acting as my attorney at the reading of Reggie s will. 

"Uncle George" was a small, thin, gray-haired man with a 
remarkable resemblance to Clemenceau. He had been one of 
the most eminent attorney generals of the United States and was 
now a member of the firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. 
He brought with him Thomas B. Gilchrist, Whom he had as 
signed to handle my affairs under his supervision. 

Reggie left me five hundred thousand dollars. Several thousand 
dollars in bequests were left to friends and servants. The five- 
million-dollar trust fund was divided equally between his two 
daughters, Cathleen and Gloria. 

Reggie named James Deering, W. K. Vanderbilt, and me as 
executors of the estate. Willie K., for business reasons, was un 
able to serve. Since I was not twenty-one, the Probate Court held 
I was ineligible. 

"Uncle George" advised me not to accept the five hundred 
thousand dollars left me under the terms of the will; Reggie s 
debts were excessive one item alone was a butcher s bill for 
$14,000. He suggested, instead, that I exercise my dower rights. 
This, as it was explained to me, meant that after the houses, 
stables, and other properties were sold, my rights as a widow 
would entitle me to a prior claim, no matter how deeply indebted^ 
the estate was. 

After little Gloria returned from The Breakers, Harry Whit 
ney came to see me several times. I told him how worried I was 
about the condition of the estate, and asked him what would hap- 


pen to the creditors if I were to accept my dower rights. He told 
me not to give these obligations another thought; he had seen 
Mrs. Vanderbilt and her lawyers, and Mrs. Vanderbilt had 
arranged to pay any debts still owing after the sale of Reggie s 

Harry also very generously told me that I could count on him 
for all the money I needed, until my lawyers could make other 
arrangements. This was a great relief to me; I don t know how 
I would have managed financially without his help, 

Many people, including my friends, have never understood 
why Reggie did not leave me amply provided for* I shall try to 

At his father s death, Reggie inherited a five-million-dollar ir 
revocable trust, the income of this trust to be enjoyed by him 
during his lifetime. At his death the capital or principal was to 
be divided, as he saw fit, among any legitimate children he might 
have. Therefore, following the terms of his father s will, he left 
his two daughters this trust, in equal shares of two and one-half 
million each. 

Cathleen Gushing, being of age at the time of Reggie s death, 
inherited her share outright. Since Gloria was then still a minor, 
her share of the estate was placed in trust for her until her 
twenty-first birthday, at which time she was to receive the 
principal together with the accumulated interest At no time 
could Reggie legally have left any of this money to me or anyone 

Reggie s way with money had, to many, been a puzzle. Beside 
this five-million-dollar trust fund, he had also inherited from his 
father an outright five million. And this he had spent some said 
/ squandered" before our marriage. It is not easy to understand 
how a man can actually spend five million dollars. But Reggie 
was a man who loved living well and saw no reason not to gratify 
his whims. After his first marriage, which was not a happy one, 
he did not intend to remarry. His daughter, Cathleen, was more 


than amply provided for. All that he might require to satisfy his 
own future needs was guaranteed by the trust fund. There was 
no reason not to indulge himself; he chose to live fully, on his 
own terms, believing that he could not possibly hurt anyone but 
himself. I was an unplanned addition to his otherwise well- 
ordered life, and I entered this marriage knowing what the finan 
cial situation was, and knowing that I loved Reggie as he was 
and for what he was. I am certain that Reggie had no regrets 
about his life except one that of leaving me, as he put it, "a 
Mrs. Vanderbilt without money." 

The following weeks were soul-trying. Because of the Van 
derbilt name, I became front-page news. Reporters, unable to get 
any information out of me, sought it elsewhere. And what they 
came up with was not always accurate. 

On September 24, when Reggie s will was probated, every 
paper carried the news that I had inherited seven million dollars. 
In this instance there was some basis for their deductions: the 
inheritance could have been a fact. Mrs. Vanderbilt had a life 
interest in the house on Fifth Avenue between Fifty-seventh and 
Fifty-eighth Streets. This Reggie would have inherited had he 
outlived his mother. But since Reggie did not survive his mother, 
this property at Mrs. Vanderbilt s death reverted to Reggie s 
sister, Mrs. Whitney. 

A few days after the probating of the will, "Uncle George" 
and I went to see Surrogate Foley in his chambers adjoining 
Surrogate Court. I was making application to have George 
Wickersham appointed guardian of the property of Gloria and 
myself, as we were both minors. I would not be of age until the 
following August. At "Uncle George s" suggestion I also applied 
for forty-eight thousand dollars a year from the trust for the 
support and maintenance of my daughter and myself. I did not 
realize it then, but future events were to prove that from this 
moment on I had the sword of Damocles hanging over my head. 
I was exhausted. All these legal matters were foreign to me, and 


difficult to understand. How I wished Thelma were with me to 
help me face these problems, help me make the decisions that 
were required; but Thelma was in England with Duke. I nat 
urally would have liked to have turned to Mamma; but I had 
learned, only too well, that Mamma s reactions were not to be 
relied upon. I had only recently had too vivid a demonstration 
of this when Mamma accused me of "shameless" behavior with 
Harry Whitney. I loved Mamma deeply, maybe too much, but 
I was now well alerted to her strange ways, her obsessions, her 
mad flashes of jealousy and suspicion; I knew she was the last 
person to whom I could turn. 

I told "Uncle George" that I intended to make my home in 
France until Gloria was old enough to go to school. I would 
then enroll her in a school in America, where I wanted her to be 
brought up. Meanwhile, Mamma had received a letter from Papa, 
telling her that he would retire from the diplomatic service the 
following June, and that he wanted to make his future home in 
France. Consuelo was living in Paris, Benny had been transferred 
to the Embassy there. All my family, in short, were now to be 
on the other side of the Atlantic; and I, no longer having any ties 
to hold me in New York or Newport, wanted to be with them. 

Still vivid in my mind is the tiny figure of Mrs. Vanderbilt, 
sitting by a window in her upstairs drawing room the day I went 
to teU her I was going to make my home in Paris. She came for 
ward, kissed me on both cheeks, and motioned me to a chair 
beside her. I didn t know how she would take my news. Although 
she had always shown me affection and kindness, I still stood a 
little in awe of her. After all, I was only twenty; she was in her 

I told her of my decision as simply and directly as I could. I 
need not have been afraid; she agreed with me that, for the time 
being, I would probably find more peace and contentment near 
my family. Mrs. Vanderbilt, I had suspected, never liked Mamma; 
I had noticed in times past that Mamma s name never came up 


in her conversation. I knew, too, that she did not believe that i% 
was wise for the older and younger generations to live together. 
I carefully avoided this subject, and Mrs. Vanderbilt tactfully or 
considerately did the same. 

Just before I sailed, Mamma announced to me, in the most 
matter-of-fact way, that she had received a cable from her Aunt 
Rosa telling her that her mother had died. There were no hys 
terics; there were no tears; there was not even a change in the 
tone of Mamma s voice. When I thought back to the scene 
Mamma had created not long before, this total absence of any 
sign of emotion was to me incomprehensible. But that was 

Eventually I arrived in Paris; and Thelma, as would be ex 
pected, was waiting for me at the Gare du Nord. On the way to 
our hotel she told me that Duke Furness was coming over from 
London that evening, and that we were dining with him. I was 
still in deep mourning, and Thelma suggested that, when Duke 
arrived, we go to Prunier, a quiet but famous restaurant specializ 
ing in sea food. She could not have made a more welcome sugges 
tion: this was the last of the "R" months, and Thelma knew I 
was a glutton for oysters, especially the French marennes. Their 
coppery taste is not liked by most Americans, but I have a special 
affinity for them; I ve been known to eat three dozen at a sitting. 

An amusing thing happened that evening almost a repetition 
of Thelma s experience with Junior Converse. Thelma and I had 
so much to say to each other that we kept talking long past the 
time to dress for dinner, and Thelma was not ready when Elise 
announced Duke. "You receive him," Thelma said. "Pour him a 
drink and tell him I ll be right out." 

I entered the sitting room, said a quick hello to Duke, then 
started to explain; but before I got three words out I found my 
self in Duke s arms. "Why, Duke!" I said teasingly, "I didn t 
know you cared." Never have I seen a man suddenly so flustered. 
Then he joined in my quick laughter as we waited for Thelma. 



Thelma and I spent the next few weeks house hunting. Af tei 
seeing practically every available house and apartment in Paris, 
I decided on a charming triplex on the Avenue Charles Floquet, 
facing the Champs-de-Mars. 

A few days later Thelma and I returned to the United States. 
Little Gloria had grown by leaps and bounds since Thelma had 
last seen her, and she chattered away like a little magpie. I don t 
know how it happened, but Thelma became Aunt Toto to her. 
We spent many happy hours with her in the nursery, playing 
games, and though neither of us can sing, she loved to hear the 
old Spanish and French nursery songs of our youth. 

I saw very few friends during this time. My days were filled 
with lawyers, arrangements regarding the sale of both the New 
port and New York houses and all the furniture. Problems were 
piling up, on me, one after the other. 

Thelma rarely accepted invitations; she spent almost all her 
time with me. To Mamma s disapproval, claiming it would ruin 
our eyes, we did jigsaw puzzles far into the night. Maybe I found 
a therapy of my own, for, believe me, the fitting together of a 
thousand or more little curved, pointed, angled, odd-shaped 
pieces of wood to form a finished picture is soothing to a troubled 

We made a flying trip to Sandy Point Farm to sort out the 
things to be sold, and to pack and ship my personal effects to 



Stormy Weather 


Although Duke had seemed to be perfectly willing to let me 
go at the time, I had no sooner arrived in New York than he 
started cabling me, asking when I intended to return. The longer 
I was away from him, the more I realized how much he really 
meant to me. 

Duke hated writing letters. I don t believe in all the years I 
knew him I received more than six from him. But he certainly 
made up in cables and telegrams for his letter-writing deficien 
cies; he bombarded me with cables, pleading, begging, then 
demanding my return. These and my many talks with myself 
decided me: Duke Furness was the man I loved. 

I had said very little to Gloria about my feelings. I wanted to 
be terribly sure myself; besides, I hated to talk of my happiness 
when she herself was so unhappy. 

A few days after I d made up my mind, Gloria came to me 
and said, "Darling, why don t you go back? I know Duke loves 
you and you love him." Putting her arms about me, she whis 
pered, "Life is so short, dear; go to him." 

That afternoon I cabled Duke I was sailing on the Leviathan 
April 30, and would land at Southampton. Would he engage 
rooms at Claridge s for me and Elise? He wired back, "You have 
made me very happy Stop Rooms reserved for you and maid at 



Claridge s Stop If not too much trouble bring record of Who 
Stop Love to Gloria Stop Always Duke." 

Elise and I sailed with the promise from Gloria that she would 
be in Paris late in May. 

In my desire to get to Duke the trip seemed endless. I wished 
somebody would make an airplane that would fly me across this 
wretched Atlantic; little did I guess that a few months later 
Lindbergh was to make his historic flight nonstop to Paris. I 
deluded myself that the days wese shorter when they put the 
clock ahead an hour at midnight. I tried to sleep late in the 
morning, hoping it would make them shorter still. 

The night before we reached port, the passengers were told 
that England was in the throes of a general strike and that we 
would not be able to land as announced. We were to pull up 
beside the dock the following morning and, if arrangements 
could be made for transportation and unloading of passengers 
luggage, we would be able to leave the ship. If not, we would be 
taken on to Cherbourg. 

When we docked that morning, I was pacing my cabin like a 
caged animal. "This is too much!" I screamed at Elise. 

"Calm yourself, Madame. Lord Furness will join you in Paris, 
I am sure, if we can t land here." 

"What do you mean, Paris?" I said, looking out of the port 
hole at an empty quay. "Why, look, I could almost jump the 

Just then I saw a solitary figure and I nearly did jump. There 
was Duke calmly walking up the gangway. Before I knew it he 
was in my stateroom. 

I should have known that nothing short of an act of God 
wpuld have prevented Duke from doing what he wanted to do. 
A strike, even a general strike, was certainly not going to stand 
in his way. I suppose owning a ship line, as well as the largest 
shipyard in England, and a few steel works and collieries to boot, 
didn t hurt any. 


Duke told me that when he had heard we might not be able to 
land, he had decided to come and get me. But how were we 
going to get all my luggage in the car, I wondered. Again I 
should have known better. Duke had come down to Southamp 
ton with what seemed to me a caravan of Rolls-Royces. To be 
exact, there were three. Davis, Duke s chauffeur, was to drive 
us. Killips, who later became my chauffeur and remained with 
me till I left England in 1940, was to drive Elise and transport 
some of the hand luggage. The bigger pieces were to follow in 
the station break. 

As we started on our way up to London, Duke nearly scared 
me to death by pulling a revolver out of his pocket and placing it 
on his lap. "Now," he said, "Fd like to see any bastard try to 
stop this car." * 

What in the world did he mean, stop the car? Seeing my look 
of surprise, he told me how the strikers had been overturning 
carsin some cases even burning them in their efforts to keep 
food and other necessities from reaching London. He also told 
me what a magnificent job the young men at Oxford and Cam 
bridge were doing, manning the trains, driving trucks; even the 
Eton and Harrow boys were doing their bit at strike-breaking. 
I thought of Dick and could almost hear him say, "Jolly good 

Just then Davis pulled up short. A long line of cars and trucks 
in front of us had stopped. Duke, waving his revolver in the air, 
got out of the car. "I ll soon see what the bloody hell is holding 
us up." 

"I wish His Lordship wouldn t do that," Davis said, turning 
around to me. "He s sure to get hurt. These blokes really mean 
business. Anyway, ^these Rolls don t help any." 

Oh, for heaven s sake, Duke, I thought, stop playing hero and 
come back here to me. 

When Duke returned, he looked a little sheepish. One of the 
large trucks had merely got a flat tire, and our brave amateurs 



were having trouble putting a new one on. I was thankful when 
we reached Claridge s without any further incidents. 

Duke had arranged for Averill and Gav to pick me up at the 
hotel before taking me to lunch at 17 Arlington Street. I was 
anxious to see this house Duke had rented for one night from 
Lady Yarborough for a dance and was still occupying six years 

The door was opened for us by a liveried footman who 
ushered us down a long corridor lined with marble statues on 
marble pedestals. "Horrible, don t you think? " said Averill, and 
I must say I agreed with her. I felt as if I were walking through a 
graveyard and hoped the rest of the house was more inviting. 

I found out later that Duke had taken the house furnished and, 
in the course of years, had added some of his own things. The 
result was a potpourri of every known period from William and 
Mary to good old Queen Victoria. Still the house had a certain 
grandeur about it. Its lovely high ceilings and beautifully paneled 
walls gave it an old-world grace. I had never lived in such a big 
house and wondered what it would be like. It didn t take me long 
to find out that a taste for luxury and prodigality is easily 
acquired though not so readily forgotten. 

Duke met us in the library, a charming room. Its walls were 
lined with beautifully bound books. It also haa a superb Adam 
mantelpiece. At the far end two big French windows opened on 
the Green Park. 

At lunch the conversation naturally turned to the strike. Dear 
Gav seemed to take it as a personal insult. He intensely disliked 
the inconvenience of it all. The government, as far as he was 
concerned, was allowing England, as well as the whole British 
Empire, to go to the dogs and not doing a dfemned thing about 
it. Placing his monocle firmly on his glass eye, he glared at me 
out of his good one. "Queen Victoria," he shouted, "certainly 
would never have allowed any such nonsense!" 

Duke suggested we dine at the Embassy Club that night. The 


Embassy was the smartest and most popular restaurant in Lon 
don. The incomparable Luigi ran it with the innate tact of a 
born restaurateur. English married people, I found out later, 
thought nothing of accepting dinner invitations separately, and 
it was Luigi s feat never to seat husband and wife at adjoining 

The room itself had not been decorated with imagination. The 
banquettes against the wall were upholstered in red velvet. Above 
them were walls entirely mirrored, reflecting the much-too- 
bright lights. The table on the right as one came in was reserved 
for the Prince of Wales or other visiting royalty. The table to 
the left Luigi usually kept for us. 

We might as well have been alone in the restaurant that night 
for all the attention we paid to the others. But I didn t realize 
that I had caused quite a sensation as, beside Duke, I entered in 
a long evening gown. 

An amusing article came out in one of the Paris newspapers 
just before I left for New York: "With Ganna Walska and 
Thelma Morgan Converse leading one side, and with Julia 
Thompson and Jean Nash leading the other, the long versus short 
skirt war goes on," and ended by saying, "Mrs. Converse s skirts 
actually touched the ground!" 

We had finished dancing and were back at our table when 
Duke blurted out, "When is that bloody divorce of yours final, 
anyway?" It was so like Duke to pick the Embassy Club to 
inquire. I looked around to see if anybody had overheard him. 
The newspaper reporters had been hot on my trail before I left 
New York, and I, of course, had been denying all rumors of an 
engagement to Duke or to anybody else. I had only just made 
up my mind myself; I had not even told Duke of my decision. 
"The latter partibf June," I whispered. Til tell you all about it 
at lunch tomorrow." 

AverilTs coming-out ball was to take place on June 24. Dear 
Averill hated the very idea of "coming out" She told me she had 



not said a word to her father because she knew how disappointed 
he would be at the way she felt about this ball which she called 
"a waste of time and money/ She loathed London and was only 
happy at Burrough Court with her hunters and dogs. I was glad 
she had not told him. He was so proud of her, and he had gone 
to such infinite trouble to make this ball the ball of the London 
season. Duke, as a widower, found it awkward to bring out a 
young girl in society, and was grateful when Lady Sarah Wilson, 
the aunt of the late Duke of Marlborough, a great friend of his, 
came to the rescue and offered to help chaperon Averill. Lady 
Sarah and I became great friends after my marriage, in spite of 
the difference in our ages. It was this wonderful, charming, 
worldly lady who took me under her wing and led me through 
the maze of London society and its bewildering names and tides. 

Before I had a chance to say anything, when I arrived at 
No. 17 for lunch that day, Duke placed a beautiful diamond ring 
on my finger and said, "I think we had better be married in 
Paris, rather than in London. That way I believe we can avoid 

I sat down hard on the nearest chair. I was flabbergasted. I 
looked at him in amazement. He hadn t even taken the time to 
kiss me, much less ask me what I thought of his plans. When I 
finally got my voice, I said, "You know, a girl likes to be pro 
posed to. It gives her a chance to say no." 

It was Duke who then stared at me in shock; this was a re 
sponse he had not expected. Suddenly he leaned over and 
kissed me, and at that moment Averill walked in. "Well," she 
said, "at last you two are making sense. When is the happy day 
to be?" 

Some newspapers in America at the time higted that Averill 

opposed this marriage. Nothing could have been further from 

the truth. Ever since my visit to Scotland she and I had been close 

friends. We couldn t have been more unlike in looks and tem- 



perament. I suppose that is why we got on so well; we were not 

I decided not to cable Gloria my news. She was arriving in 
Paris the end of May, and I wanted to tell her myself. Dick, 
Duke s son, was also to be kept in the dark; he might talk at Eton. 
The only ones who knew were Averill, Gav, Lady Sarah Wilson, 
and, of course, Elise, who I knew would keep our secret. 

Elise and I went back to Paris within the next few days. There 
was so much to be done. 

I had been told by my lawyer that if I were to be married in 
France I would have to get certain papers from the American 
Consul General in Paris. I didn t give this much thought; I knew 
that Mr. Skinner was a great friend of Papa s and would do all 
he could to expedite matters, and also to keep our secret. I re 
membered him well; he had been American Consul General in 
London during the war. 

But first I wanted to order my gown for Averill s coming-out 
party, as well as my wedding gown. I knew I wouldn t have time 
to get much else. 

I went to Patou for my wedding dress a lovely bois-de-rose 
crepe de Chine with a matching long coat bordered at the 
sleeves and hem with soft, silky lynx. Reboux designed a very 
pretty turban of the same material. For Averill s party I chose at 
Lanvin a beautiful wide white slipper-satin robe-de-style, very 
tight at the waist and touching the ground. Halfway down the 
skirt on either side was a cluster of round black-velvet appliqued 
circles the size of a small pancake. These were circled by little 
round mirrors which, when I danced, reflected the lights. 

The lease was almost up on my apartment; I decided to move 
to the Hotel du Rhin, on the Place Vendome opposite the Ritz, 
hoping that the flange of address might help me to avoid the 
press. Ever since my return from London reporters had been 
deluging me with calls and begging for interviews. I was at my 
wit s end, dodging questions. 



Monday, June 7, the New York American came out with, 
"Reports reaching New York from Paris today tell of the secret 
marriage in London last week of Mrs. Thelma Morgan Converse 
and Lord Furness, multimillionaire steamship owner. While con 
firmation is lacking and Mrs. Converse has denied that the cere 
mony has taken place . . ." 

I don t know whether it was the move or that the reporters 
had tired of hearing me say, "No comment." At any rate, they 
now gave me a breathing spell. 

Before I left London, Duke and I had agreed that he was not to 
come to Paris until the day before we were to be married; and 
the marriage was scheduled to follow AverilTs party. Our high 
romantic moment, in short, was precisely geared to the clock 
work of social events. In the interim, we kept in touch by 

One evening Duke called to say that he had just talked, long 
distance, to his lawyer in Paris. "When you go to see Mr. 
Skinner," he said, "I suggest you take him with you." 

I didn t see any reason for this lawyer to go with me and told 
Duke so. "After all, darling, it isn t as if I did not .know the 
Consul. He s an old friend." But Duke insisted. 

The next morning I telephoned the Consulate and made an 
appointment for that afternoon. Duke s lawyer picked me up at 
the hotel and together we went to the Consulate. Mr. Skinner 
couldn t have been sweeter. He asked about Papa and Mamma. 
He reminisced a little about the war and then said, "Well, 
Thelma, what can I do for you?" 

I told him all about my wedding plans, how wonderful Duke 
was, how happy I was, and that I understood I needed some 
papers from him before I could get married in France. 

I looked over at Duke s lawyer and wondejed why he didn t 
say anything. Surely, I thought, that was what he was here f or 
to talk about those papers I was to get. 

"Of course, Thelma," Mr. Skinner said, "I ll see to it that 


everything is in order for you." Then, turning to Duke s lawyer, 
he asked, "What is the marriage settlement to be?" 

I looked at him in amazement. "I don t understand. What do 
you mean, marriage settlement?" 

Finally Duke s lawyer spoke up. "Mrs. Converse, Lord Furness 
asked me to come here with you, knowing Mr. Skinner is a 
friend of your family; he thought perhaps Mr. Skinner would 
advise you on the marriage settlement." 

I was getting furious. "I still don t understand." 

Mr. Skinner tried to calm me. "Listen, Thelma, in England it 
is the custom for a woman to get a marriage settlement when she 
marries. It doesn t mean anything, really. It doesn t matter 
whether you re very rich or not, there is still a little marriage 
settlement. It can be a few hundred pounds a year or a few thou 
sand pounds a year." 

To me this was horrible. "So I m being bought!" I cried. "I 
certainly won t take a marriage settlement. I m not marrying 
Duke because of a settlement. This is absurd!" 

Mr. Skinner tried to explain once more that this was the cus 
tom in England. "Nobody is buying you," he said. "Nobody is 
doing anything. This has been done since time immemorial." 

"Just die same," I declared, "I m not going to accept it." 

This exasperated the lawyer. He called my stand ridiculous. I 
stood up. "It may be ridiculous to you, but in America things 
are not done that way, and I m an American and that s that." 

Again Mr. Skinner interrupted. "After all, Thelma, I m your 
father s friend. He happens to be in South America. If he were 
here, he would advise you just the way I m advising you." 

"If God himself were to advise me, I wouldn t do it," I insisted. 
"I don t want a settlement." 

Mr. Skinner looked at me as if I d lost my mind. "In that case, 
I won t give you the papers you need." 

"Very well, Mr. Skinner. Thank you just the same." I stalked 



out of the room with Duke s lawyer following behind me, not 
knowing what kind of lunatic his client was marrying. 

As soon as I got back to the hotel, I telephoned Duke and told 
him he had better come over to Paris at once. I had something to 
say to him that could not be said on the phone. 

What s wrong, darling? You sound angry." 

I surprised him by saying, , "You re bloody well right I m 

"Darling, that doesn t sound like you. I ll be over on the first 
plane in the morning," Duke said. "Whatever has upset you I m 
sure can be ironed out." 

As I hung up, I was a little ashamed. Duke was right. This 
didn t sound like me. 

The next day Duke stormed into my apartment and took me 
in his arms. "What s this nonsense about my buying you?" he 
asked, laughing. "My solicitor met me at the airport and told me 
all about your meeting with Mr. Skinner. Frankly, darling, he 
thinks you are a little bit off the beam." 

I pulled away from him. "Look here, Duke," I said, "I don t 
want a settlement from you. I m marrying you because I love 
you, and that s that!" 

"Listen to me, darling. In England it s only a normal pro 
cedureit s expected that a man should settle a certain amount 
of money on die woman he marries. This isn t wife-buying; it s 


I started to cry. "I know I m being ridiculous," I said, "but 
I can t help it. It s all so businesslike." 

At this point Duke was ready to do anything to calm me. 
"Don t worry, darling," he said soothingly. "Whatever you 
.want, you can have. And if you want no settlement, that s the 
way it will be. I ll go to see Mr. Skinner and explain." 

"No, you won t! " I shouted. "We re not going to be married 
in Paris. We re going to be married in London; I don t know the 


American Consul there, but whoever he is, I m sure he isn t inter 
ested in playing second father to me." 


I don t believe I ever felt more alone than I did, sitting in my 
deck chair, when the Majestic was three days out of New York. 
My thoughts were as troubled as the waves that beat frantically 
against the side of the ship. I missed Reggie so very, very much. 

I had just come from Mamma s cabin and one of Mamma s 
characteristic scenes. Mamma had turned on me suddenly, vio 
lently, vituperatively. The reason? I wanted to take Gloria 
on deck with me. The sea was too rough, Mamma said; the baby 
might get hurt. The way she described the state of the sea at 
this moment you would have thought that the next roll of the 
Majestic would be her last, and that we were all bobbing over 
Davy Jones s locker. But this was not all; Mamma, in a rage, 
accused me of deliberately trying to harm little Gloria. If I was 
totally lacking in concern for Gloria s safety, Mamma went on, 
she at least would see to it that "the little one" was protected. 
I had tried to explain to her that all the other children on board 
were playing on deck, and having a wonderful time. Mamma s 
voice then rose to a scream: "This might be so, but they are not 
Gloria Vanderbilt!" 

I know now that this was a turning point in my life. By a 
strange twist in her disordered mind Mamma had come to assume 
that my child was hers, and that I, her actual child, had become 
a force of evil, threatening the safety of her fantasy child; I 
should have recognized this pathological trait for what it was, 
and asserted my authority. But I did not. It is not easy, at this 
writing, to account for my inaction. Perhaps the shock of 
Reggie s death had left me emotionally inert. Perhaps I was still 
under the spell of Mamma s authoritative personality. Perhaps, 
not yet aware of the tragic implications of Mamma s delusional 



flights, I still believed everything she did was based, at heart, on 
a deep although confused lovea love that I could trust. I prefer 
to think that the last is the most reasonable explanation. In spite 
of all that I have since experienced, I still believe that it is un 
natural for a child to turn without a devastating cause or fright 
against her own mother. But whatever the reason, I left Gloria 
in Mamma s hands; she did not come on deck that day. 

The nurse, Emma Keislich, was also giving me trouble. She had 
adopted toward little Gloria and in some respects toward me 
an attitude that seemed patterned on my mother s; to Keislich, 
Gloria was an especially delicate child whose fragile nature was 
not properly respected by me; she was, moreover, an heiress 
whose privileged status was not adequately acknowledged by 
those whose duty it was to serve her. Only the day before, the 
chief dining-room steward had come to me to say, with apologies, 
that no matter what the chef prepared, Keislich returned it to the 
kitchen: it was not right for Gloria. The baked potatoes were 
either too mealy or not mealy enough; the meat was invariably 
too rare or too well done; the fruit was too green or too ripe. 
This, too, was the beginning of a trend, a warning symbol of 
emotional disturbance which I should have dealt with at the 

There was a time, later, when we were at the Ritz, in Lon 
don, that Keislich tangled with the chef there. When Dr. Gavin 
came to visit us, he found Keislich cooking a chicken for little 
Gloria in a hot plate resting on the toilet seat. The nurse told 
Dr. Gavin, in all seriousness, that the Ritz food was not fit for 
anyone to eat much less a sick child. "Of course," she added, 
"Mrs. Vanderbilt does not agree with me; but I for one am going 
to see that little Gloria Vanderbilt has the best." Gav suggested, 
sarcastically, that perhaps she, when younger, had the privilege 
of acquiring a culinary skill superior to that of the Ritz s Cordon 
Bleu chef, but he doubted it. Then, turning, he saw the wash 
basin heaped with carrot and onion parings. The sight spurred 


him to exercise his medical authority. "What the hell do you 
mean by using the washbasin as a kitchen sink?" he bellowed. 
"As a registered nurse, you should know that a bathroom is for 
other purposes." 


The night of AverilPs ball, Lady Sarah Wilson gave a dinner 
in a private room at the Ritz and had graciously included me. I 
write "graciously" with purpose, for although Duke and I 
planned to be married within the next few days this fact was 
obviously not known to most of the others who would be 
present. To those who knew of me at all, I was merely Mrs. 
Morgan Converse, a young American divorcee whose name had 
been linked by gossip with Duke Furness. As a consequence I 
must say that, as I was dressing for dinner, I felt apprehensive. 
I had been told who some of the guests would be; some I already 
knew among them Lady Emerald Cunard and Sir Thomas 
Beecham; die Brazilian Ambassador and Madame Regis de 
Oliveira, whom I had known in Paris; Sir Hugh Seely, now 
Lord Sherwood; and the late Viscount Tredegar, a very dis 
tant relative of ours through the Morgans. I hoped they would 
take pity on me and help me navigate these strange and treach 
erous channels. 

I was a frightened young woman when I entered the draw 
ing room and discovered that at least sixty others had been 
invited for dinner, some fifty of whom were strangers to me. 
Among others I recognized H. R. H. Prince Henry, now the 
Duke of Gloucester, and realized that this was to be my first 
encounter with British royalty. Averill, seeing me hesitate as I 
stood in the doorway, came up to me and led me to Duke and 
Lady Sarah. En route across the floor, I observed that I was the 
target for many inquiring glances. 

After dinner we all went to 17 Arlington Street, where the 



ball was to be held. The house was festive. Constance Spry, the 
famous London florist, had blanketed the rooms with flowers. 
There were two orchestras and two supper rooms. In all, Duke 
had invited some eight hundred guests; and taken as an ensemble, 
they provided a sight as impressive as it was exciting the women 
in their gala gowns, the men, all handsome it seemed to me, with 
their many decorations. Among those who stand out in memory 
are the Duchess of Westminster, Sir John and Lady Milbanke, 
Lady Loughborough, Viscount and Lady Ednam (Lady Ednam 
was later killed in a plane crash on a flight to Le Touquet), and 
Mme. Martinez de Hoz, one of the most beautiful and best- 
dressed women in international society. 

Viscountess Wimborne also gave a dinner before the ball. 
Among her guests were Prince and Princess Obolensky; the Earl 
and Countess of Brecknock; the beautiful Lady Dalkeith, now 
the Duchess of Buccleuch; and the equally beautiful Lady Diana 
Cooper. Sir John, the famous portrait painter and his wife, Lady 
Lavery whose face can be seen on Irish stamps also come to 
mind. I was to come to know most of them well in the next few 
years and many of them became my friends. 

At lunch the following day Duke told me he had made ar 
rangements to have the registrar s office at St. George, Hanover 
Square, which ordinarily is closed on Sundays, opened especially 
for our marriage. He hoped by this stratagem to avoid the press, 
and he succeeded. One of the New York papers came out the 
day following our wedding with, "A Triumph of Secrecy the 
society gossips are still ignorant of many of the details all reports 
of the affair thus far have been secondhand." Duke, as usual, had 
got his way. 

Mamma and Gloria arrived from Paris the morning before the 
wedding and were staying at the Ritz with me. Duke had asked 
all those who were to be at the ceremony for cocktails that 
afternoon. Lady Sarah, Gav, Mamma, Gloria, Averill, Dick, and 
Bettine Abingdon. 


We decided not to go to the registrar s in our cars, but to use 
taxis instead. A flock of private cars in front of the registrar s on 
a quiet Sunday morning might attract too much attention. 

Gav, Duke s best man, was to go with Duke. Mamma and 
Lady Sarah were to go together. Bettine, Averill, and Dick were 
to share a taxi. Gloria was to come with me. 

Averill looked disappointed. "Oh, Thelma dear," she said, 
"can t I be the one to go with you?" 

I didn t have to look at Gloria, for I was sure she was as 
pleased as I was at the pretty compliment, and so it was decided 
that Gloria should go with Dick and Bettine. 

That night Mamma, Gloria, and I dined quietly in my apart 
ment. The next morning, the twenty-seventh of June, at nine- 
thirty sharp, Averill arrived, loking very pretty in an almond- 
green suit that set off her red hair. Elise was trying her best to 
keep me still long enough to fasten the line of little buttons down 
the back of my gown. 

"Well, how does the bride feel on this bright sunny day?" 
Averill asked with matter-of-fact briskness. 

"Oh, Averill, I m so glad you re here. I m so nervous I don t 
know what I m doing." 

Averill sat down on the bed. "Yotfre nervous! You should see 
Dad. I ve just poured half a tumbler of brandy down his throat 
and he was still shaking apart when I left." 

I must say I don t think a registrar s office is the most romantic 
setting in the world for a wedding. It all seemed so cold and 
businesslike. But before I knew it I was signing the wedding 
certificate; and it was only then that everybody became natural. 
Duke kissed me. Dick said rather shyly, "You look simply top 
ping." Averill whispered, "The brandy must have done the 
trick." They all flocked around us, congratulating Duke, wishing 
us both all sorts of luck and happiness. Mamma took me in her 
arms and, as usual when emotional, spoke Spanish. "Mi deseo, 



querida, es de verte siempre felice como ahoramy wish, darling, 
is to see you always as happy as you are now." 

When we arrived at No. 17 I was touched to see all the serv 
ants in the hall, waiting to wish us happiness. Watson, the butler, 
made a charming little speech as he handed me a bouquet of 
flowers that he "respectfully hoped I would accept from the 
staff." I thought I was going to cry when I thanked them. 

Mrs. Vanderbilt, Gloria s mother-in-law, was staying at 
Claridge s in London at the time and had asked Gloria, if it 
weren t a large reception, whether she could come and wish us 
luck; it would please her very much. Though I didn t know this 
charming old lady well, I was of course delighted. She was still 
in mourning for Reggie, and I m sure it must have been an effort 
for her. 

It all seemed like a dream as Duke and I drove off to Burrough 
Court, his place in Leicestershire, where we were to spend the 

The next morning Elise woke me with my breakfast. "Good 
morning, Milady! It s a beautiful day." 

"Oh, Elise, darling," I said, "it is indeed a beautiful day!" 

With a little sly smile, Elise, as usual, went about her chores. 

On our return to London I opened, with excitement, the first 
invitation addressed to me as a peeress. The card read: "The 
Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry request the pleasure 
of Viscount and Viscountess Furness presence " At the bot 
tom corner was the single word, "Decorations." By this time even 
I knew that this meant royalty would be present. 

I was terribly nervous as I got ready for the dinner, and I tried 
to imagine who the royalty would be: Princess Mary? The Duke 
of York and his bride? Could it possibly be the Prince of Wales? 
Later, when Averill joined me, she announced, "I m nervous as 
a cat." I smiled reassuringly and said, "You needn t be, dear; you 
look lovely." But little did she know how nervous I was. 


Londonderry House was magnificent that night. Flowers 
were massed everywhere. There were footmen with powdered 
wigs, knee breeches, and long white stockings. What a tale this 
house could tell were it only able to speak, I thought. Kings and 
queens had strolled through its stately rooms; lords and statesmen 
had made history there over glasses of port. 

Duke s friends all came up to meet me, and to congratulate 
Duke. Everybody was very kind and very flattering, and I soon 
got over my nervousness. Duke seemed pleased when his friends 
called him a "lucky dog." 

I looked around for Averill. She, too, seemed to have gotten 
over her nervousness and was happily dancing with a handsome 
young guardsman. 

"Come on, darling, let s dance, too," Duke said as he led me 
to the dance floor. 

We hadn t been dancing long when all of a sudden there was 
a murmur and then a little hush. Lord and Lady Londonderry 
had entered the ballroom with the Prince of Wales at their side. 

I whispered to Duke, "Look, darling, the Prince of Wales!" 

As he stood in the doorway, the Prince seemed a little shy. His 
hand went often to his white tie. He held his head a little to one 
side when spoken to. He looked younger than I had pictured him 
and very handsome. 

The music had stopped. Duke and I were moving toward the 
supper room when I heard my name called close behind me. 
"Lady Furness." I looked around and there was Lady London 
derry with the Prince of Wales beside her. 

"Sir, may I present Lady Furness, Duke Furness s young 
American bride. Lady Furness, His Royal Highness, the Prince 
of Wales." 

I was thankful for my long, full dress. My knees would not 
stop shaking. I knew the Prince could not see them; I only hoped 
he could not hear them. He put out his hand and I put my gloved 
one in his, made a deep curtsy, and said nothing. I couldn t. 


Welcome to England," he said cordially. "I hope you will be 
happy here. May I have the next dance? I believe it s a Viennese 
waltz. I do hope you like them." 

Like them! The Viennese waltz had always been my favorite. 
Again I thanked my lucky stars for my long dress. Waltzes and 
knee-length dresses never did go together. 

The music stopped. The Prince thanked me. I curtsied, and 
did not see him again at least really to talk tofor nearly three 

Looking out the window just before we reached Inverness, 
I noticed a heavy mist and hoped it would lift. I so wanted it to 
be a perfect day. As the train pulled into the station, the sun 
came out. Davis was waiting for us again with the old gray Rolls. 

Scotland in June I thought even more beautiful than in au 
tumn. Long-haired sheep grazed peacefully, tended by little 
boys and their dogs. Wild flowers were to be seen everywhere. 
North toward Beauly, which is in the midst of one of the wildest 
regions in the Highlands, where red deer are plentiful, the glens 
were a mass of color, pale pink lavender to deep purple heather. 

Duke and I spent four heavenly weeks doing nothing very 
much but being divinely happy. The hunting and shooting sea 
son was not open; I had Duke all to myself. On fine days we 
would get on our ponies with lunch baskets and ride through 
the moors for hours until we found just the right spot to picnic- 
usually near a cool stream. After lunch Duke sometimes would 
take out his spyglass and watch the stags and hinds as they 
roamed the moors; I wandered, picking wild flowers. At other 
times we would just lie on the heather in each other s arms. 

One day I found some white heather. I was delighted; it s 

supposed to bring good luck. I took it home with me, carefully 

pressed it, and put it in a book of Rabindranath Tagore s poems. 

It is no longer green and fresh, and only a few of the little white 



flowers remain, but it brings back many happy memories. 
Memory is very kind. More often than not it lets one remember 
only the pleasant things. 

There were days when we would take the motorboat to the 
end of the loch, and I d go swimming in the cold, clear water. 
Duke always worried on these occasions; he himself couldn t 
swim. He would have a gillie in a rowboat follow me around. 
It wasn t much fun being supervised this way; so I didn t swim 

I received a long letter from Papa, telling me that at long last 
my letter to him announcing and asking his blessings on my 
forthcoming marriage to Duke had caught up with him in Paris. 
He also enclosed a newspaper clipping dated July 7, 1926. The 
heading read: "Marriage of Mrs. Morgan Converse to Lord 
Furness a Surprise to Bride s Father, H. H. Morgan." The item 
read, in part: 

The first intimation received by Harry Hays Morgan, retiring 
American Consul General at Buenos Aires, that his daughter had 
married Lord Furness, the British shipping magnate, came this week, 
when reporters meeting the Munson liner, Southern Cross, on which 
he arrived from South America, asked him if he were on his way to 
visit his son-in-law. "What son-in-law?" he demanded. "Lord Fur- 
ness," he was told. "Did Thelma marry Lord Furness?" he said. 
"That s the first I ever heard of it. Well, I m sure he ll make an 
excellent husband for her and I ll gladly give my blessing to them 

Then in the interview he explained his ignorance by saying 
that he had been on the sea for more than fifteen days. "I suppose 
Thelma s message never reached me or else that I will find it 
waiting for me when I land." 

That was what had happened. In the bustle and excitement 
before my marriage I hadn t stopped to think how long it took a 
letter to reach Buenos Aires from Paris. Papa sent his somewhat 


belated blessings and said he hoped to see us both in the fall on 
his return to Paris from Biarritz, where he was to spend a few 
weeks with Gloria and Mamma. 

I was overjoyed at the thought of being with Papa once again. 
It had been nearly three years since I had last seen him, and I 
missed him. I was also eager to have Duke meet him. 

Meanwhile, Duke and I decided to spend three or four weeks 
at Duke s country place, Burrough Court, then meet Papa in 

We arrived at Burrough early one morning and were met by 
Averill and Dick. I was looking forward to the prospect of sink 
ing roots in this country house, which had come to mean so 
much in Duke s life. When Duke bought it, Burrough was a 
small, two-storied hunting lodge. Duke had since added wings 
on either side, giving the house the shape of a square U. The 
dining room, drawing rooms, and library were on the ground 
floor. Our bedrooms and the guest rooms were above. We could 
put up some fifteen people, which seemed quite a lot to me; but 
by English standards this was not considered a large house. Still, 
it was roomy, and it was comfortable; every bedroom had its 
own bath, and there was central heatinga blessing in the cold 
winter months. 

I was glad that most of our neighbors had not yet arrived for 
the season. It gave me a little time to get used to my new 


On my return to Paris from Thelma s wedding, my brother 
Harry and I went to Biarritz to see about a house for the sum 
mer. We arrived early in the morning and were lucky enough to 
find a charming house called the Villa Ourida, near the Chiberta 
golf course. 


The Villa Ourida was all I hoped it wotdd be. Little Gloria, 
as usual, loved the beach and our picnics in the pinewoods 

Papa arrived from Buenos Aires. I was happy to see him after 
so long a rime, and pleased that he was now going to make his 
home with me. He had, of course, never seen his first grandchild, 
and it was a delight to behold his joy in her. 

The summer passed pleasantly but quiedy. 

I celebrated my twenty-first birthday with a small dinner 
party. Among my guests was Angustias, die Marquesa San 
Carlos, who has remained a close friend ever since. Angustias 
was the mother of two handsome boys. Tall, gray-eyed, she has 
all the beauty and charm of her native Granada. Extremely chic 
herself, she surprised no one at the tremendous success she had as 
"Marie Christine"; from her very first showing, she established 
herself as one of the foremost modistes in Paris. 

It was during this season that I met the Prince of Wales. As 
we entered the Reserve de Ciboure, one of the charming places 
to dine that dot the Basque coast, the air was vibrating with 

"His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales is here!" the maitre 
d hotel excitedly told me. 

As I sat down I glanced across the room and saw a slender, 
handsome young man. I thought him far handsomer than in the 
many pictures I had seen. 

Nothing could have surprised me more than when, as we were 
dining, his aide-de-camp, General Trotter, came to our table and 
said, "His Royal Highness would like to know if you are related 
to Mrs. Benjamin Thaw." 

"Yes," I answered, "I m her sister, Gloria Vanderbilt." 

As soon as the aide-de-camp returned to his table, the Prince 
arose and came over to me, saying, "I met your sister Consuelo 
in Buenos Aires. May this serve as a present introduction?" He 



sat and joined us for a few moments. He told me that when he 
was in Buenos Aires, the American Ambassador was away. All 
the entertaining had fallen on the shoulders of Benny and Con- 
suelo. He saw a great deal of them and they became great friends. 

We did not meet again until some time later at Thelma s house 
in London. 

The end of September found Mamma, little Gloria, and me 
installed at the Avenue Charles Floquet. The newly decorated 
apartment looked lovely. The furniture and curtains I had chosen 
on previous trips fitted in beautifully. 

At Thelma s wedding Mrs. Vanderbilt had told me she had 
bought for me all the silver, linens, and trophies from Reggie s 
estate, and had shipped them to me in Paris. 

When I tried to thank her, she said, "They belong to you, 
Gloria dear. I want you to have them." 

And now these had arrived as well, so that everything was in 
order in a house I hoped would be a happy one. It wasn t! 

In October, when Thelma was back in London, I received 
word from "Uncle George" that my presence would be neces 
sary in America, now that I was twenty-one, to sign certain 
papers that would wind up the settlement of the estate. 

Harry, Angustias, and I sailed in November on the Leviathan. 

Two days out, Captain Hartley asked me to lunch. The 
luncheon was in honor of the Queen of Romania, who was 
aboard with her daughter, Princess Eleana, her son, and her 
nephew, H. S. H. Prince Hohenlohe. Those present were Mrs. 
Woodrow Wilson, Baron Thyssen, and some of the Queen s 
entourage. I was seated next to Friedel Hohenlohe. He was not 
a handsome man, but distinguished. He had the long upper lip 
of his great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, which most of that 
family have. I marveled at his English, which he spoke with a 
perfection one rarely hears in a Continental. 


This was his first trip to America, and I liked his enthusiasm. 
He wanted to know about the Metropolitan Opera. Was it as 
wonderful as he d heard? It seemed his two loves were music 
and horses. The National Horse Show was opening, and, as I 
had a box, I asked him to join my party. 





After Christmas at Burrough Court, a hard frost set in and all 
hunting stopped. Duke and I decided to go to Monte Carlo. I 
was delighted. We arrived in brilliant sunshine at the Hotel de 
Paris. I couldn t wait for Elise to unpack my things, I was so 
anxious to go exploring. As I looked out of my window I saw the 
famous Casino; even at eleven in the morning people were going 
in to gamble. 

After lunch Duke and I took a stroll around the town. I was 
fascinated with the gendarmes in their cock-feathered helmets 
directing traffic as seriously as if they were in the very heart of 
Piccadilly. Be jeweled old dowagers, sitting at sidewalk cafes, 
were sipping hot chocolate and eating mountainous heaps of 
French pastry. Their finery must have been the fashion in 
Edward VIFs time. Duke told me many of them were widows 
who found the climate of Monte Carlo pleasanter than Eng 
land s; and, what was more important, there were no taxes. 

Later that afternoon I asked Duke if he would like to go to 
the Sporting Club for a while before dinner. He told me he was 
expecting some calls from London; I should go on ahead and he 
would join me later. I went up to my room to change, and, as 
I was leaving, I realized I had no French money. Elise proudly 
handed me 4,000 francs. I knew that would not take me very far 
in a casino. But I decided, if I lost this, as I was sure to do, I 


could always cash a check. Tucking the 4,000 francs in my purse, 
I went to the Sporting Club. After I had paid and signed for my 
entrance card, I had a little more than 3,000 francs left. 

At the first table they were playing roulette. I watched for a 
while. This was a new game to me; in Deauville, or any of the 
other French casinos for that matter, roulette, at that time, was 
not allowed. People here seemed to be taking it seriously. All 
had a system. To me it looked like sheer luck. I placed 1,000 
francs on zero, 1,000 francs on 17, and 1,000 on 32. To my 
amazement 17 popped up; I had won 32,000 francs. I played one 
or two more turns of the wheel and lost, then wandered off to 
play chemin de fer, which I understood and liked better. I was 
lucky there, too. When Duke arrived, I was the proud possessor 
of some 80,000 francs. 

Monte Carlo in 1926 was a winter resort only. It wasn t till a 
year or so later that Elsa Maxwell, after her tremendous success 
in attracting summer tourists to Venice, was asked to do the same 
for Monte Carlo, and I think it was mainly her ideas that made 
it the world s most fashionable summer playground. 

Duke wanted to show me all the beauty spots he knew so well. 
We d drive toward Nice on the Upper Corniche over paralyzing 
hairpen bends the like of which I have never found anywhere 
else except along the Costa Brava in Spain. Gloria, once when 
we were motoring there, had said, "This coast was certainly well 
named. One has to be brave to take it." 

One beautiful day Duke and I stopped for lunch at the lovely 
little village of St. Paul high above the Mediterranean. Sitting 
over our coffee, we could see for miles, up and down the coast. 
Yachts on their way to Monte Carlo or Cannes dotted the trans 
lucent blue sea. Majestic sailboats cruised leisurely by. The 
pungent scent of mimosa, so much a part of the south of France, 
was all around. 

On our way back we followed the coast on the Lower Cor 
niche. I am not sure which are the more petrifying, the hairpin 



bends on the Upper Corniche, or the lunatics that drive at a 
hundred miles an hour, or so it seemed to me, on the Lower. 

When we reached the hotel, I was surprised and delighted to 
find Hannibal de Mesa. I had not seen him in ages. As he threw 
his arms about me, I noticed Duke bristle. It wasn t until I had 
introduced them and explained that Hannibal had practically 
bounced me on his knee as a little girl that Duke unruffled. Over 
cocktails Duke asked him if he would care to join us for dinner. 
I was pleased; I liked him to like my friends. We had already 
asked Sarah Wilson and the Duke of Westminster; though Han 
nibal protested he would make an odd number, Duke insisted. 

"Ben-Dor" Westminster was one of the most attractive men 
I had ever met. In many respects he was very un-English. He 
adapted himself to the continental ways much better than most 
Englishmen. He entertained lavishly on his yacht, the Cutty Sark. 
He was a keen gambler, a good loser as well as a gracious winner. 
He loved beauty of any kind, especially beautiful women. 

After dinner we all went to the Sporting Club. Duke was 
never very good at cards, but he did enjoy strolling through the 
rooms, chatting with friends, and every now and then taking a 
hand at chemin de fer or baccarat. 

One of the pleasantest memories I have of these days is of a 
lunch at Lou Sueil, Madame Jacques Balsan s house at Eze. 
Madam Balsan, nee Consuelo Vanderbilt, a first cousin of 
Reggie s, was and is one of the most beautiful women I have ever 
known. Should anyone ask me whom of all beautiful women I 
would pick to look like, I would unhesitatingly say Consuelo 
Balsan. Before she married Jacques Balsan she was married to the 
Duke of Marlborough. I once saw a photograph of her as canopy 
bearer to Queen Alexandra at the coronation of King Ed 
ward VII and I don t think I have ever seen anything more 

One could see at once, as one entered Lou Sueil, that it was a 
loved house. The paneled walls were magnificent, the Chinese 


fret and fine carvings of rare Chippendale chairs and tables 
blended beautifully with the more romantic and delicate Louis 
XVI low and comfortable sofas. Madame Balsan had somehow 
managed to make into a home what might have been a museum. 

When Duke decided to push on to Cannes, I hated to leave. 
I thought Monte Carlo was lucky to me. I had won more than 
100,000 francs, some $4,000 at the then rate of exchange. But at 
the same time I was anxious to see the place where Napoleon 
landed after his imprisonment in Elba, also the He Ste. Mar 
guerite, where the man in the Iron Mask was consigned to 
oblivion by Louis XIV. 

On the way we lunched at the Reserve de Beaulieu, the famous 
restaurant which is mentioned in every guidebook as a gas 
tronomic must, and indeed it is. I have never tasted anything 
more delicious than their trout, which they catch in the streams 
in the Alps, bring down alive, and place in a large fountain in 
the middle of the courtyard, to be seen as one enters the restau 
rant. The guests who choose to have trout for lunch are given 
nets and catch their own. This is easier said than done. I had set 
my heart on a particular one, but he kept eluding me. When I 
finally got him, I was as proud as if I had harpooned a whale. 

Duke s mother, to get away from the cold English winter, was 
spending a few weeks in Nice. We had promised to stop for tea 
on our way to Cannes. I wasn t looking forward to this visit. 
Lady Furness, though she tried hard not to show it, I am sure 
never quite got over her son s marrying again. Duke in his way 
was very fond of his mother, but I soon realized his visits to her 
were largely duty calls. 

He must have taken after his father, for there were never two 
people more unlike in appearance and character. Lady Furness 
had been an invalid for years, but I always suspected this was 
partly put on to attract attention and sympathy. She was short 
and stout and always dressed in black or gray, relieved by a lace 
fichu held in place by a pearl dog collar. Although Yorkshire 



born, she spoke with a slight cockney accent; and she had an 
exaggerated sense of the family importance, I thought, consider 
ing the fact that the Furness fortune and title were so new. But 
in full plumage and reinforced by relatives, she could be formi 
dable. The Furness aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws, however 
much they might hate, kowtow, or envy separately, presented 
en masse a solid wall of respectability. 

As we entered the Hotel des Anglais in Nice, I squared my 
shoulders and took a deep breath. Lady Furness was reclining 
on a sofa. I was relieved to see Annette Bryan and Connie 
Furness there. Of all Duke s cousins, I liked them best. Annette 
was a sweet, comfortable, homey sort of person, without a mean 
streak in her nature. Her life rotated around her husband, Claud, 
whom she worshiped, and her two young sons, whom she adored. 
Connie Furness was young and acted as a sort of dame de com- 
pagnie to her aunt. As a matter of fact, I never knew if she was a 
niece or a cousin. They all always called Lady Furness "Auntie" 
and as there were so many of them, I never did get to know which 
was which. 

Connie always seemed pleased to see us and the children. Her 
life at best must have been very dull. It also must have been very 
difficult for her to please an old lady who frowned on anything 
modern and who believed the strait-laced Victorian Era was the 
only one in which to live and lived accordingly. 

Many a Sunday when we stayed at Hamels Park, my mother- 
in-law s place in the country, Connie would smuggle a pack of 
cards up to our apartment to while away a dull, rainy afternoon. 
Sunday, as far as Lady Furness was concerned, was a day only 
for prayer. 

Duke s pungent vocabulary, a combination of the stables 
where he bred his horses, the Yorkshire collieries that formed the 
basts of the family fortune, and the docks where the Furness ships 
tied up, shocked his mother, but even she could do nothing about 
it but wince. The miracle of it all was that I did not pick up the 


phrases. Somehow Duke s swearing never registered at least not 
with me. Outside of "bloody" and "hell," I don t remember one 
single word of that startling, picturesque vocabulary. 

We arrived at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes just in time to dress 
for dinner. We dined at the Cafe de Paris a short distance from 
the hotel. Duke had ordered something he said he was sure I had 
never had before. When the waiter brought this specialite de la 
maison, I was mystified. I couldn t make out what they were. 
They looked like little dark brown apples steaming in a dish, but 
they turned out to be immense truffles cooked in champagne. 
They were delicious. For years after, whenever I was in Cannes, 
one of the very first things I d do was go to the Cafe de Paris for 
their specialite. 

One morning I saw in one of die shopwindows an exquisite 
old rose-point lace shawl. I wasn t surprised, but I was a little 
disappointed when I asked the price and was told it was 45,000 
francs. I wanted it, but thought it an unnecessary extravagance. 

I had tucked my 100,000 francs in my purse just before leav 
ing the hotel. We were dining at the Casino that second night in 
Cannes and were sure to go to the gambling rooms later. 

The Casino at Cannes was much larger than the Sporting Club 
at Monte Carlo, much more impersonal. I supposed that it was 
like the Municipal Casino at Monte Carlo, which I hadn t had a 
chance to see when we were there. As I strolled through the 
rooms, I missed the friendly faces of the Sporting Club croupiers. 
I stopped for a while and watched the play at the big table, roped 
off to keep the spectators from crowding the players. What I 
saw scared me; if I had thought the betting high at Monte 
this was astronomical. I moved off to find a table where the play 
was lower, but I had no sooner sat down than the manager came 
up and said, "Lady Furness, there s a place at the big table now. 
Would you care to take it?" 

I didn t, but I did not have the courage to say so. I was still 
young, inexperienced, and shy. I hesitated a second, then scooped 



up my 100,000 francs and with all the dignity I could muster 
followed him to the table as if it were the most natural thing 
in the world for me to play in hundreds of thousands. 

As the flunkey held the chair for me to sit down, I looked at 
the card over the table to see what was the minimum wager. "Six 
thousand francs," it read. Well, that s not too bad, I thought to 
myself, but wished it had been my lucky 3,000. 

As I settled down, I looked around the table to see whom I 
was to play against. The Aga Khan was the only one I had met. 
Some of the others I knew by sight: Jack Coats, sitting at the far 
end of the table from me, who I had been told was an English 
millionaire and an inveterate gambler; Gordon Selfridge, the 
American-born department-store tycoon of England; and Jenny 
Dolly. My eyes popped. I had never seen so many jewels on any 
one person in my life as on Jenny Dolly, and every one of them 
was an emerald. The magnificent necklace she wore around her 
neck must have cost a king s ransom. Her bracelets reached 
almost to her elbows. The solitary ring she wore on her right 
hand must have been the size of a small ice cube. 

I turned and saw Duke standing behind me. The "sabot," or 
shoe, as the wooden box is called in chemin de fer, which holds 
the cards one is to deal from, was just coming around to me. 

Would you like to come in halves with me, darling?" I asked. 

"No, thanks, I can lose quite enough on my own and have 
more fun doing it," Duke answered, I thought somewhat rudely. 

As the croupier placed the sabot in front of me, I timidly put 
up 6,000 francs. The man on my right said, "Banco." I won. I 
now had 12,000 francs. At chemin de fer the bets are doubled 
every time one wins. At the time I am talking about, after the 
player had won 40,000 francs, he could ask the croupier to put 
20,000 aside and play for the remaining 20,000. I was delighted 
when my luck held out and I had reached that point, as I was 
now playing on other people s money. I had the croupier say, 
"Twenty thousand in the Bank. Who makes this Banco?" 


"Banco," someone said on my left I turned and looked at the 
pkyer. It was Gordon Self ridge. I dealt him his cards and waited. 

"Card, please," I heard him say. I turned mine up. I had a nine, 
the highest you can have. I had won again. 

"I will play again," he said, "if you leave the 40,000 in the 

I smiled sweetly. * Why, certainly, Mr. Selfridge," I said with 
forced nonchalance. My heart was pounding. 

"Card," I heard him say. I slowly turned mine up. A little gasp 
went around the table. I had won again. It wasn t so much the 
amount, for much higher stakes had been won and lost that 
night. It was for the number of times I had won. Now I was 
playing for 80,000 francs. 

Jack Coats was the next to Banco me. I won again! Jack, it 
seemed, had not learned a lesson from Mr. Selfridge. He also said 
he would Banco again if I left the 160,000 francs in the Bank. 
I won! 

By this time my table was surrounded. The word had got 
around the Casino that there was a fantastic run at the big table. 
The players were beginning to think I was going on forever, and 
so did I. Again, again, and again I won! 

The next hand was to be the seventeenth straight pass. How 
could I lose with my lucky 17? But by this time the players were 
frightened to play against me. Finally a few bets of some 10,000 
francs were made up around the table. Confidently, I dealt the 
cards and to my surprise my opponent threw a nine on the table. 
I turned my cards over. Two Jacks stared me in the face. I had 
finally lost. 

When the croupier handed me my winnings, I was amazed to 
find I had won a little under a million francs about $250,000. 

Duke had also heard of the run at the big table, but in the 
excitement I had not noticed him standing behind me. With a 
twinkle in his eye he said, "Did you say something about going 



"Oh, go win your own money! It s more fun." 

But when we went to the bar to celebrate I paid for the 

The very first thing I did the following afternoon was go on 
a shopping spree. I bought the lovely rose-point lace shawl I had 
admired. Next, I went around to ReviUon and chose a handsome 
ermine cape for Mamma. There s an amusing sequence to this 
gift. Four or five years before Mamma died she gave it back to 
me all wrapped up in its original blue linen bag, just as I had 
given it to her. "Darling," she said, "I think this beautiful ermine 
cape will look very nice on you. Would you like to have it?" 
She had forgotten completely that I had given it to her some 
twenty-three years before. 

I next went around to Carrier and was lucky enough to find 
for Gloria an exceptionally lovely jeweled gold-and-enamel 
clock, the work of Faberge, the famous St. Petersburg jeweler. 
Also at Carrier I ordered a cigar case for Duke, specially made 
for the enormous cigars he always smoked. 

Our stay at Cannes was coming to a close. A thaw had made 
hunting possible again at Melton and I knew Duke wanted to 
take advantage of the few remaining weeks. I hated to leave. We 
had had such a wonderful rime. But I also realized how selfish it 
would be on my part to suggest that I should like to stay. 

I had never been happier. Duke, I was convinced, was the 
ideal husband intelligent, determined, worldly, and fun to be 
with. We were blissfully happy those first few months. I had 
never had so much attention showered on me. Duke s eyes rarely 
left me. He delighted in giving me gifts large and small. Know 
ing my passion for flowers, hardly a day went by that he didn t 
send me some. I was utterly content in his love and firmly be 
lieved it would always be that way. People who didn t know 
Duke well may read this with some bewilderment. The impres 
sion he gave, I have been told, was that of a hardheaded business 
man, finicky in his apparel, self-centered, arrogant, and quick- 


tempered. But to me who knew and loved him he was none of 
these things. 

On our return to England, we settled down at Melton for the 
remaining weeks of hunting. As I did not hunt myself, time hung 
heavily on my hands. Following hounds in a pony cart or by car 
I found rather dull. What I needed was an interest of my own. 

Walking down a lane one afternoon, I stopped to watch a 
mother hen and her chicks. They looked so fluffy, yellow, and 
sweet as they pecked at the ground. I decided then and there 
that that was what I was going to do start a chicken farm! 

Duke laughed when I told him about it, but agreed to let me 
have three acres of my own for my farm. I was terribly proud 
when at the end of the first year the books showed the mag 
nificent net profit of sixpence twenty-five American pennies. 

AverilTs interest, apart from hunting, was the management of 
the 4oo-acre estate that was Burrough Court. She bought and sold 
livestock, hired and fired farm hands, kept the books, and made 
the property pay, which I think quite wonderful for a girl of 
her age. She was also in many ways strong-headed and deter 
mined to have her own way. As devoted as Duke and Averill 
were to each other, there was bound to be a clash of wills. At 
rimes I inevitably found myself in the middle. 

I remember as if it were today the terrible scene that took place 
when Averill asked permission of her father to cut her lovely 
red hair. "If you do," he stormed, "you d better bloody well not 
come back here, and that s final." 

But by the look in her eyes as she left the room, I knew she 
was not intimidated. I was right. She went straight to the beauty 
parlor and had her beautiful hair cut off. To make matters worse, 
she came back with an Eton bob. Poor Duke could do nothing 
about it. 

A constant bone of contention between them was her insist 
ence on riding astride and his determination she ride sidesaddle. 
I watched with some amusement, for I knew they were both 



stubborn and would not give in easily. I made little bets with 
myself as to who would be the victor. I should have known 
better, though. It took time and a good deal of maneuvering on 
her part, but Averill got her way in this, too. 

Melton Mowbray is the focal point of three famous hunts: the 
Quorn, the Cottesmore, and the Belvoir. So it wasn t surprising 
that it attracted a good many American sportsmen. I was de 
lighted to find among them some old friends. The Ambrose 
Clarks, Laddie Sanford, the Bostwick brothers, Freddie and 
Winston Guest, and the Phipps boys are some I remember. 
Particularly good friends were die Lawson- Johnstons. Although 
they didn t hunt, they stayed with us often and were very 
popular with the hunting set. I had met Betty through my sister, 
Consuelo, who had known her in Washington as the widow of 
Lyman Kendall. 

London, that summer of 1927, was the gayest it had been in 
years, I was told. There was hardly a night without a ball or a 
dinner party. Hostesses had to pick their dates for these parties 
well in advance, lest they conflict with one another. Even then, 
more often than not, there were two or three balls on the same 

I have never liked big parties, and rarely go to one if I can 
help it. The reason, I suppose, is that they frighten me. Though 
people, I am sure, will never believe me, both Gloria and I are 
shy. When I try to explain this to my friends, they only laugh 
and say, "You, shy? Don t be idiotic. I have never seen a woman 
enter a room with more poise and aplomb than you do." I may 
give that impression, but it s certainly not what I feel. 

I had come up to London for my first season with some per 
turbation. I was aware that the English, unlike the Americans, 
are not apt to take strangers at face value only. They have to 
know you well before they give you their friendship; but once 
they have given it, I have found, they remain true and steadfast. 

Another thing that disturbed me was their irritating custom of 


not introducing you. I suppose they take it for granted that 
everyone should know everyone else, but just the same the cus 
tom is nerve-racking to a stranger. Occasionally, however, you 
would encounter the reverse of this practice, the barbed intro 
duction, which was even more disturbing. The arch devotee of 
this practice was Lady Cunard, one of whose aspirations was to 
maintain a salon on the style of Madame de Maintenon and to a 
certain degree she succeeded. Her guests, never more than ten or 
twelve on any one occasion, were hand picked. The men were 
wits or lions; the women were chosen for their charm or beauty. 
Emerald herself was a witty conversationalist, although her bons 
mots were frequently at the expense of others. 

As I got to know Emerald better, I realized that all her bravado 
and cutting remarks were merely a shield to hide a lack of assur 
ance in herself. 

Averill and I were shopping in Bond Street one day when I 
stopped to admire a lovely chiifon-and-lace nightgown. 

"I don t understand how you can sleep in one of those things, 

"Why, what do you sleep in?" I turned around to her, 

"Pajamas, of course." 

All the way home we argued about nightgowns versus pajamas, 
with neither giving in an inch. 

When Duke and I had married, I had insisted that Averill keep 
her mother s bedroom at Arlington Street, as well as the one at 
Burrough. I knew how much she had loved her mother and 
understood how she d hate to have to give them up. I was glad I 
did. This little gesture made us come closer than anything else 
I could ever have done. 

Coming home from a party that night, I started to get ready 
for bed. As I opened my door to go to the bathroom at the end 
of the hall, which Averill and I shared, I saw her come out and 



go to her bedroom. She had her back to me and I did not speak. 
As I said before, it was late and I didn t want to chat all night, 
which I was sure she d want to do if she saw me. I chuckled to 
myself, for I noticed she was wearing a long, flowing white 
nightgown with a light blue sash around her waist. I could hardly 
wait for morning to tease her about it. At lunch the following 
day I said, "So you never wear nightgowns, do you?" 

She looked up at me. "No, why?" 

Well, you certainly were wearing one last night when I saw 
you coming out of the bathroom." 

"You must have been dreaming, darling," she said. "I never 
left my room at all last night." 

I knew I hadn t been dreaming, but thought it best not to argue 
the point 

That afternoon Lady Furness phoned and asked me to tea. As 
I entered the house, in the hall I noticed a painting propped up 
against the wall. The portrait showed a young woman with red 
hair piled high on her head, dressed in a flowing white gown 
with a light blue sash around her waist. I was puzzled. I knew I 
had never seen it before, but the subject seemed very familiar to 
me. I vaguely wondered who she might be. A little later, as we 
were having tea, I asked Lady Furness who the lady was. 

"I ve just had it sent down from Hamels Park. I thought it 
would look rather nice hanging in the hall. It s my favorite 
portrait of AverilTs mother." 

I caught my breath. The cup in my hand crashed to the floor. 
I must have turned deathly pale, for Lady Furness anxiously 
said, "Why, dear, what s the matter with you? You look as if 
you d seen a ghost." 

With the greatest effort I regained my composure. I judged it 
wiser to say nothing about what I had seen. 

To this day I wonder. Was it Averill or the ghost of Averill s 
motherthat I saw in that hallway thirty years ago? 



Toward the end of July London started to empty. The houses 
in Mayfair and Belgravia were beginning to close their shutters. 
The season was over. People were leaving for Deauville, Le 
Touquet, Biarritz, or Cannes the newer vacation resort that was 
fast becoming popular. 

Duke and I went over to Ireland for the Dublin Horse Show 
and the Phoenix Park races. He also wanted to show me Guild- 
town, a thoroughbred stud farm he owned near Dublin. Duke 
took a great deal of interest in the stud. It was his knowledge of 
breeding as well as that of George Smithwick, his able stud man 
ager, that made Guildtown one of the best and more profitable 
studs of the day. For years it topped the sales at Doncaster in 
England. I believe it was in 1927 that Dorothy Paget bought one 
of Duke s yearlings for the staggering figure of 17,000 pounds, at 
that time die highest price ever paid for a yearling. 

The late Aga Khan bought Guildtown from the estate shortly 
after Duke s death. 





My return voyage, from New York to France, was to prove 
fateful. Harry, Angustias, and I sailed on the Majestic one cold 
December day. And entirely by coincidence Prince Hohenlohe 
was again on die same ship. He was on his way to Schloss Langen- 
burg, to spend the Christmas holidays with his parents. Friedel 
had been my guest several times during his visit to America; we 
had been together at the horse show and at the opera but always 
as part of a large party, and I had had no opportunity of knowing 
him well. On shipboard, however, we were together constantly; 
and by the time we approached Cherbourg, our casual friendship 
had developed into love. 

We were together again in Paris; and before Friedel left for 
Langenburg he asked me to marry him. My impulse was at once 
to say that I would. But we were not the only ones to be con 
sidered. Facing me was my responsibility to little Gloria. And 
there was Mamma. To this day I have never fully under 
stood Mamma s opposition to Friedel. I was still young; a new 
life was opening for me, full of promise for happiness and 
love with a man of character and integrity whose family name 
Mamma should have been proud to have me bear. But with 
Mamma, my happiness counted for nothing. I was not so much 
a daughter as an instrument for the manufacture of an heiress. 
And once that heiress had been given physical existence my 


former virtues became transformed into vices; for as a mother, 
with a mother s responsibilities, and a mother s love, I might in 
Mamma s eyes disturb the tender roots through which little 
Gloria was predestined to tap the subsoil of two-and-a-half 
million dollars. 

It is not easy to account for the motivation of a woman who 
is mentally, or at least emotionally, disturbed. And although I do 
not know in what technical category my mother would fall, 
there is no question of the fact that she was disturbed. Although 
Mamma all her life was a miser, and made money or the an 
ticipated lack of it the center of her concern, she came from 
one of the richest families in Chile. Never in her life had she lived 
in poverty; never had she wanted for anything. There may, how 
ever, be some subtle hereditary factor involved in this trait: my 
grandmother had also shown signs of miserliness, even, in her 
later years, hiding money under the mattress. In fairness, how 
ever, it should be pointed out that my grandmother s symptoms 
were not conspicuously evident until she was ninety, and at that 
age almost any oddity is excusable. 

My father s behavior may have been a contributing factor. He 
was an extremely generous man. Money had no meaning for him 
other than the pleasantness it gave. Trips around the world, 
gigantic parties, entertainment of every sort these were ex 
travagances he delighted in, with no thought of the effect the 
costs might have on his financial reserve, or on his or the family s 
future. If Mamma had not restrained him, he would have spent 
everything he had; and this attitude may have had a bearing on 
her growing fears. She could never put out of her mind the fact 
that she had to take care of three daughters and a son and later, 
of course, the one who replaced in her affections all of her own 
children, litde Gloria. 

After little Gloria was born I became to Mamma little more 
than a threat to Gloria s bank account. Perhaps this statement 



would be more apt if put in the negative: my chief function, as 
Mamma saw it, was not to interfere with the management, by 
others, of Gloria s inheritance. And this, at bottom, was her 
opposition to my marriage to Prince Hohenlohe. 

Mamma s vision of an insidious "plot" had all the melodrama 
of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller with a little of the atmosphere 
of Richard HI thrown in for macabre effects. According to 
Mamma, Friedel would influence me to such an extent that I 
would so neglect the child as to bring about her the kind of 
natural death that would spare us both the threat of the electric 

My life at this time was a succession of hues and cries. Alarms 
were compounded with alarms. I could scarcely leave the house, 
even for a few days, without being bombarded with frightening 
telegrams from Mamma. I shall never forget one terrible trip I 
made to Biarritz. Angustias, Harry, Friedel, and I had motored 
from Paris, arriving at Biarritz in the late afternoon. A frantic 
message awaited me at the hotel: Gloria had developed tuber 
culosis. There was no train until late that night; so, over Harry s 
protest, I insisted on returning at once, by car. 

We left for Paris, dashing through the night at racing speed. 
On reaching the apartment the next morning, I rushed into 
Gloria s room, only to find it empty. My heart sank. I was sure 
she had been taken to the hospital. Then I heard Mamma say, 
"Well, you re back." 

I turned. "Where is Gloria, Mamma?" 

The air became cold as ice. 

"Why, in the park with her nurse. Where else would she be 
at this time of day?" 

"But you told me she was dying." 

"She is better," my mother replied, her mouth set tight. 

Years later, when I saw the play Gaslight, I was reminded of 
this inhuman moment. 



I received a charming letter from Princess Hohenlohe, Friedel s 
mother, inviting me to visit her at Langenburg and saying they 
would meet me in Munich. 

Two lovely baskets of flowers greeted me when I entered my 
rooms in the Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel. The red and white roses 
I knew were from Friedel, the others must be from his family. 
Picking up the card, I read, "Welcome, Gloria." 

Though Friedel and I were unofficially engaged, I had never 
met his father and mother. Knowing they must be aware of 
Mamma s attitude, I was touched by this greeting. 

It had been arranged that we would spend a few days in 
Munich and then motor to Langenburg, about five hours distant. 
Friedel s sisters, Dolly and Baby, took me on long sight-seeing 
tours of this lovely town, to museums, shops, and historical 
monuments. At night we would all dine at the famous Wirts- 
hauser and beer gardens. Princess Hohenlohe, grande dame that 
she was, was one of the simplest women I have ever known, inter 
ested in everything that went on about her. She would chat gaily 
to total strangers sitting next to her, then kughingly turn to me 
and say, "Dear, you really must learn German. One misses so 
much fun in not understanding." 

Prince Ernst Hohenlohe-Langenburg was a slight man with a 
long, thin face and aquiline nose. His manner was extremely 
quiet. His was the type of aristocracy, derived from centuries 
of authority and gentle breeding, that maintains a stoic serenity 
and detachment from the pettiness of worldly affairs. Princess 
Hohenlohe was the daughter of the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen 
Victoria s second son, who was later to become Duke of Saxe- 
Coburg-Gotha. Her sisters were Queen Marie of Romania, 
Grand Duchess Cyril, and the Infanta Beatrice of Spain. 

Like all the hereditary princes of Germany, the Hohenlohes 
were great feudal landowners. Their estates included two castles, 
or Schlosser, in Bavaria, one at Weikersheim, the other at Lan 
genburg. Between the castles is a stretch of thirty miles, dotted 



with small villages; all of thisfarm lands, forests, houses, villages 
comprises the Hohenlohe holdings. 

The town of Langenburg is situated in a green valley between 
two mountains; it consists of a single street of little houses clus 
tered together like the medieval houses in the engravings of 
Albrecht Diirer. Each building, if in miniature, might well be a 
museum piece. Although Langenburg does not have a population 
of more than four or five hundred, the Langenburg families have 
occupied these houses for generations. Everything in Langenburg 
appears to symbolize serenity, permanence, tradition a weather 
worn aesthetic completeness. 

To approach the Schloss, you drive over a moat. About a hun 
dred yards beyond, you come to an enormous stone archway on 
which the Hohenlohe arms are carved; on either side are en 
trances with carved escutcheons. As a gesture to me, the day I 
first visited Langenburg an American flag was flying alongside 
the flag of the German Republic. 

The sheer weight of antiquity overwhelmed me when Friedel 
escorted me to the vast main hall, along whose walls were rows 
of antlers and stags heads and collections of ancient arms and 
armor, and from whose hewn oaken beams were suspended huge 
iron candelabra. The thick, solid gray stones of the walls spoke 
of times when the Schloss was a bastion, and when remote 
Hohenlohe ancestors defended the castle with arbalests and hal 
berds. In the corners of the large rooms were enormous stoves of 
colored tiles, some of which, brought from China in centuries 
past, are priceless. Early each morning, on cold days, the fires 
in the stoves were fed through openings from the outside hall. 

During the time when I was first at Langenburg, Princess 
Hohenlohe had a birthday, and the ceremony which marked it 
was charming in its grace and courtesy. Tenant fanners assem 
bled in the great hall, presenting as gifts their finest fruits and 
preserves. Gardeners came in carrying baskets piled high with 


bright flowers. All were dressed in the picturesque Bavarian 
costumes made from fabrics in brilliant hues of red and green 
and dyed, I later learned, by their own hands with pigments 
compounded according to formulas traditional to the village. 

A formal dinner followed, attended by the Grand Duke and 
Grand Duchess Cyril and many friends from the surrounding 
countryside. A unique old custom is observed at these dinners. 
Behind the chair of each guest stand a man and a woman servitor. 
It is to them the butler or footman hands the food; they in turn 
serve the guests. This is a relic of the ancient service demanded 
by feudal chiefs, in which the underlings tasted the food first, to 
insure against poison. 

Many things are famous about Langenburg, among them, in 
one of the turrets, an extraordinary library that contains a Guten 
berg Bible and a collection of rare editions whose counterpart 
can be found nowhere else. The tapestry room has rare Gobelins 
and a fabulous collection of jade, a gift from an emperor of 

Those few days spent at Schloss Langenburg were a harvest 
of peace and contentment. Bolts of emotional lightning and strong 
physical attraction, as we know, have marked most of the history- 
making and world-shaking romances. But Friedel and I were not 
writing history or trying to shake the universe. We were two 
people in love who wanted desperately to gain happiness. It was 
as simple as that. 

As simple as that? There were a dozen different complexities 
attendant upon it, both on Friedel s side and on mine. Could I, in 
all fairness to Gloria, bring her up entirely in a foreign country? 
What would the Surrogate s point of view be? Friedel, on the 
other hand, was the son of a semi-royal house whose income was 
derived from vast forest knds which one day he would inherit 
and manage. And last but not least, there was Mamma s idiotic, 
unaccountable attitude. 



If life was secure and placid at Langenburg, in contrast it 
simmered with an undercurrent of bitterness and venom in my 
own home. 

My trip to Langenburg had given me much room for thought. 
I knew I was deeply in love with Friedel and hoped to marry him 

On my return to Paris, Mamma met me at the station. Her face 
was set in a calm, cold mask. I was surprised and worried. 
"Come, Mamma/ I said, "it s not as tragic as all that. After all, 
Friedel is half English." I took her hand in mind, hoping to avert 
the scene I was sure was coming. 

Mamma pulled her hand away. "Gloria," she said, "I have 
come to meet you because several serious things have happened 
since you went away which you must know at once." Here it 
comes, I thought. Back from the peaceful life at Langenburg, the 
perfect understanding of a family pulling together, each thinking 
of the others happiness. It was so very unlike my own, where 
every move, every action was looked on with suspicion, 

I heard Mamma say, "Are you listening to me? The nurse s 
mother is dying and she wants to return to New York imme 
diately. This I want you to prevent at once. That poor unfor 
tunate child could not stand the shock of a strange nurse." 

Turning down the glass partition in the car, she ordered 
George to drive around the Bois until she told him to go home. 

I don t get mad easily, but the combination of my mother s 
ridiculous notion of the harm which could come to Gloria from 
a new nurse and her highhanded manner of ordering George 
made me see red. Countermanding her order and closing the 
partition, I turned to her and said, "You forget you are a guest in 
my house." 

Not another word was spoken until we reached the apartment. 

Entering the drawing room, Mamma took off her gloves and 


said, smiling, "You re right, Gloria, this is better. Now, we can 

"There is nothing to say. Pm going up to see the nurse." 

I found Keislich in tears over a letter she had received from a 
friend of her mother s telling her that her old mother was dying 
and that there was no one to care for her. I told her not to worry. 
I would make arrangements for her to sail at once. Meanwhile, I 
would cable Forest March, whom she knew well and liked, and 
ask him to do everything possible for her mother. 

"Oh, but Mrs. Vanderbilt," Keislich said, "I can t leave the 
baby. What will happen to her? I can t, I must not." 

At this moment a thought glimmered in the back of my mind 
that it was not so much her love for Gloria as the realization that 
this might mean the end of her service. 

Before Keislich could sail, however, I received a cable from 
Forest saying that her mother had died and that he would attend 
to all funeral arrangements. 

Several days later Keislich received a sweet and kind letter 
from Forest March with details of her mother s last hours and 
stating that the funeral had been everything she could have 
wished. Unfortunately, her mother s friend was ill, but he, 
Forest, personally had gone to the burial and had been the only 
one present. Keislich wrote him a long letter full of undying 
gratitude for everything he had done for her "poor mother" and 
wept copiously as she read it to me. 

(Her "undying gratitude" was not long-lived, for on the 
witness stand six years later she kept repeating that no decent 
person ever crossed my threshold. On being asked whether 
Forest March had visited Mrs. Vanderbilt, she sneered, "Forest 
March? Oh, you mean that big butter-and-egg man from the 
West? Yes, he came.") 

Life after this became almost unbearable. I couldn t even talk 
to Papa about Mamma s irrational behavior. Peace-loving Papa, 



not being able to stand her tirades, had long since left for quieter 

That summer of 1928 I rented the Villa Aice Colpea in Biar 
ritz. This was the last summer Mamma was to spend with me. 



Wings of Love 


Duke seldom raced any of the horses he had bred. All yearlings 
were sent to the Doncaster Sales and offered to prospective 
buyers. Duke argued that if he made a practice of racing his own 
horses, the buyers would suppose, with good reason, that he had 
kept his best horses as his own entries. The only time he raced 
his own colors was when he bought a mare or two in the hope 
that they could win a good race before being sent out to stud. 

We were all quite excited on Derby Day in 1928 when Orwell 
a beautiful horse by Gainsborough out of Golden Hair which 
had been bred and sold by Duke, was an odds-on favorite. 
Orwell, until then, had won nearly every race in which he had 
been entered; we were certain that he was going to win the 
Derby as well. 

Papa had come over to London from Paris to visit us for the 
summer. For the first time I was getting to know my own father 
for what he really was a kind, understanding, sensitive, gentle 
man. I began to realize more and more that Mamma s subtle in 
sinuations about his not wanting us with him were pure fabrica 
tions. It was a joy to me to see Papa and Duke together; and 
Averill and Dick adored him. I had at last found a friend in 
my father. 

Lady Kimberly and her husband, Jack, Papa, Gav, Hugh 
Seeley, Lady Sarah Wilson and her son Randolph, Averill, Duke, 



and I set off in high spirits for the Derby in brilliant sunshine, 
Epsom Downs was gay and colorful. The costermongers were 
out in full force; their traditional red, yellow, purple, and green 
ostrich-feathered hats and their pearly coats seemed to dance in 
the sun. There were bright red busses filled with merry people 
who had come out to enjoy themselves and see one of the great 
est races in the world. The bookmakers, yelling their odds on the 
horses, the immense crowds, made everything very exciting. 

But nobody was more excited than I. It is the dream of every 
thoroughbred breeder to have bred a Derby winner, and I was 
hoping and praying for Duke s sake that Orwell would win for 
him that day. 

Friends came in and out of our box, wishing us luck. Every 
body was sure Orwell was a dead certainty. I felt a little sorry 
for Lady Cunliffe-Owen in the adjacent box. She was obviously 
very nervous. Her husband, Sir Hugo, president of British Amer 
ican Tobacco, was running a rank outsider named Felstead. To 
make matters worse, her baby was just about due. 

As the horses came out on the course, she leaned over and 
said, "Orwell looks magnificent. There doesn t seem to be any 
thing to touch him. Good luck." 

I was embarrassed. I didn t know just what to answer. With a 
forced smile I said, "Thank you, Lady Cunliffe-Owen, but you 
know one never can tell till they re past the finishing post, can 

As I said it, I knew it sounded insincere and rather smug, but 
I didn t have time to say anything else. The roar of "They re 
off! " got me to my feet. 

Orwell got off to a good start. Through my field glasses I 
could see his jockey confidently holding him back, but as they 
came to Taterham Corner he gave him his head and Orwell 
jumped into the lead. Coming around the bend, he looked as 
though he were flying. The crowd was shouting itself hoarse. 
The favorite was bound to win, 


Then all of a sudden there was a deathly silence. Orwell 
seemed to have stopped dead. For a second everything stood 
still. It was just as when a moving-picture projector stops sud 
denly, leaving the players caught in half-finished movements. 
Then the voices of thousands rose like a thunderclap. "Come on, 
Orwell!" "Come on, Orwell!" I couldn t believe my eyes. What 
had happened to Orwell? The crowd kept on shouting for the 
favorite to come on, but as I followed him through my glasses, 
I realized he was finished. 

As the horses were coming up to the finishing post, I forced 
myself to look. To my amazement, as well as that of others, I saw 
Felstead win. 

Pandemonium broke loose in the Cunliff e-Owen box. Friends 
rushed in to congratulate them. Lady CunlifFe-Owen was very 
near hysterics. Somebody gave her smelling salts. Her husband 
was anxiously hovering over her. 

As they got up to go to the winner s enclosure, I said with a 
smile I m sure must have looked as if it had been painted on, it 
was so artificial, "Congratulations. I told you one could never 

Going home that evening our little party was very subdued. 
The talk was all about Orwell and what could have happened to 
him. As a rule I m a good loser, but this time I couldn t resist 
saying sarcastically, "Well, it must be very gratifying to win the 
Derby, but I don t see why one has to have hysterics about it." 

"Oh, come, Thelma," Averill said, laughing. "In the excite 
ment she might have had the baby then and there." 

"Quite so," I snapped back. "And I suppose they would have 
cracked a bottle of champagne over its head and christened it 
Felstead for good measure." 

Not long after I believe poor Orwell was found dead in his 
stall of a heart attack. 

A few weeks later we went to Ascot to watch a little filly 
owned by Duke, called Wings of Love. The race she was enter- 



ing in wasn t especially important, but it was the first time I d 
seen one of Duke s horses run under our colors, and I was very 

Royal Ascot with all its traditional glory is really a most im 
pressive sight. This opening day was perfect; the sun had come 
out after days of rain. The flowers banked against the royal box 
looked as if the dew were still on them. The course was as green 
as an emerald as the King and Queen drove along it in an open 
landau drawn by the famous Windsor Greys. Following were 
members of the royal family; and, behind them, the royal house 

Just before Wings of Love s race, Averill and I went to the 
paddock to give her a little pat of encouragement and wish her 
luck. As we got back to the royal enclosure I tried to look cool 
and collected, but my heart was beyond my control. 

The horses were at the post when Averill turned to me and 
said, "What s the matter, dear,, aren t you feeling well? You look 
so pale." 

I was quite all right, I assured her just a little nervous. "Any 
way, with a name like that, she should fly, shouldn t she?" I said 
and hoped I was right. 

I don t remember any part of that race except that when the 
horses were coming up to the winning post, Wings of Love was 
neck and neck with another horse. It looked as though it would 
be a dead heat. I stood frozen, trembling, waiting for the winner s 
number to go up. Wings of Love had won by a nose. I grabbed 
Averill, who was jumping up and down with joy. "Darling, I 
think I m going to faint." 

"Don t you dare!" she said. "Now you know how Lady Cun- 
liffe-Owen felt when she won the Derby." 

Duke and I went up to Scotland early in August 1928. Not 
long after, I thought a miracle had taken place. I was convinced 
I was going to have a baby. I couldn t believe it. The doctors in 


New York had told me when I lost Junior s baby that it would 
be very unlikely for me ever to bear children. Now I wanted to 
run and tell Duke. I wanted to shout the news across the moors. 
But I didn t do any of those things. I decided first to be certain. 

I told Duke that night that I was going to London for a few 
days. I explained Fd been feeling rather tired and run down the 
last week or so and thought it advisable to get a checkup. Duke 
looked worried. He at once suggested coming with me. He didn t 
want me traveling alone when I wasn t well. "Nonsense," I said. 
"The doctor will probably give me a tonic and tell me to get on 
with it. Anyway, I won t be alone. Elise will be with me." 

As I left my doctor, Sir Charles Stevens office, my feet hardly 
touched the ground. I had just been told, Tour baby will be 
born early in May." 

As I got on the train to go back to Scotland, I thought to my 
self, this is every woman s reason d etre. I now had everything in 
the world I had ever hoped for. This time I felt secure; my 
husband wanted the baby as much as I. 

Christmas and New Year s we spent quietly at Burrough. 
Averill and Dick, as well as Duke, were out hunting most days. 
Time hung heavily on my hands, and though I did not expect 
my baby until May, I tired easily. I was both happy and grateful 
to have Papa and Gav to keep me company. Our leisurely walks 
around the garden or down to the chicken farm were pleasant 
ones. Puff, a little papillon dog Gloria had given me on my birth 
day that year, danced like a ballerina at my feet. 

The holidays were over. Duke, Dick, and I went up to Lon 
don, Dick to go back to Eton and I to get the nursery ready at 
17 Arlington Street, where I planned to have my baby. 

What a joy it was to see the nursery take shape! The crib, all 
pink and white, the bassinet everything that could be dreamed 
up for a baby were waiting for me when we arrived. 

The Grande Maison de Blanc on Bond Street was filled with 



all sorts of enchanting baby clothes to choose from. I picked out 
the most beautiful layette and an exquisite christening robe, 
which they promised faithfully to deliver the second week in 

We returned to Burrough Court, intending to stay there 
through Easter, which was very early that year, and then go 
back to London to await the baby. 

Toward the end of March Dick arrived for the holidays. 
Although the weather was still chilly, the hawthorne hedges were 
budding. Tiny green spikes of hyacinth and daffodil bulbs 
pierced the black earth. As I walked through die garden with 
Puff , I noticed Averill painting some garden furniture. It looked 
like fun, and I decided to help her. 

"Don t be ridiculous," she said. "This is no work for a woman 
in your condition." 

"Oh, stop fussing! I feel wonderful," I answered. I took a 
brush and went to work. 

An hour or so later I suddenly felt very tired. "I think I ll go 
and freshen up for tea," I said, looking at my watch thankfully. 

When I got to my room, I felt very ill indeed. I lay down on 
my bed, hoping the uneasiness would pass, but it didn t. I put a 
call through to Gav in London and was told he was out. I asked 
them to have him call as soon as he came in. I then called Sir 
Charles Stevens, my own gynecologist, and was told he was out 
of town. I asked them to please try to reach him and have him 
call me. 

For the first and only time Elise lost her aplomb. Before I 
could stop her she dashed out to find Duke, though I had for 
bidden her to leave me. I knew just how he would react. Cars 
and servants would be sent in every direction. When he dashed 
into my room, I tried to reassure him but nothing I said made 
any difference. 

"Why aren t those bloody doctors where they re supposed to 
be?" he stormed. 


He telephoned Dr. Mould at Melton, who said he d be right 
over. Duke had no sooner hung up than Gav came through and 
told him to tell me to stay in bed, that he was on his way. 

When Dr. Mould arrived and examined me, he told me the 
baby would be born within twenty-four hours. 

Gav arrived late that night and Dr. Stevens early the follow 
ing morning. The nurses who had been engaged for the month 
of May were, of course, not available. In the excitement all the 
doctors had engaged their own nurses. In consequence, I had 
four of them and three doctors hovering over me that morning. 

Dr. Stevens gave me an injection. I heard Gav say, "It will be 
some hours yet." The next thing I was aware of was a little 
whimper which seemed to come from a clothes basket next to 
me. "Yes, Lady Furness," said a faraway voice, "a beautiful little 
baby boy/ 





It was early in October of 1928 that one day, as little Gloria 
was going out to play in the Bois, I noticed she was wearing 
white kid gloves. I told the nurse to change them. Gloria burst 
out crying, insisting she wanted to wear her new gloves. This in 
itself was quite normal. What child does not want to put on the 
newest thing, no matter how inappropriate? What was abnormal 
was that at just that moment Mamma rushed into the room, 
picked up the child, and sat her on her lap. There and then 
took place one of the most disgraceful scenes one could imagine. 

Holding Gloria so close to her I thought she would stop 
breathing, Mamma faced me hurling a barrage of bitter charges. 

In my astonishment and horror I heard her tell little Gloria she 
could wear whatever she wanted at any time. Wasn t it the Van- 
derbilt money her money that paid for everything? "Your 
mother would be in the streets were it not for you, my darling, 
my poor little orphan," she said. "But I will protect you. As long 
as I live no one will take a penny of yours." Turning to me, 
white with rage, she yelled, "I know what you and that Boche 
are trying to do. You are trying to kill this poor, unfortunate 

Seeing my look of stunned incredulity, she shouted, "Oh, yes! 
I know! It will be an accident. A little push down the stairs- 
seeing that she is left in a draft a million ways! And you, 


Gloria, will weep like a Magdalen, but just the same, the Van- 
derbilt millions will be yours! " 

(Five years later, in a bedroom in Gertrude Whitney s Fifth 
Avenue house, practically verbatim, the same scene was repeated, 
but this time the words came from my own child.) 

The nurse stood quietly by, smug, placid, saying nothing. I 
took Gloria from Mamma and said, "Nanny is only play-acting, 
darling! It s time for you to go to the Bois and play now." 

After they left, I followed Mamma to her room where she 
threw herself on the bed and sobbed. "It s only because I love 
that poor, unfortunate orphan so much. Don t you understand 
that, Gloria?" 

Suddenly changing her tactics she sat up, her sobs now a thing 
of the past. Trying to put her arms around me, she said, "Gloria, 
my darling, don t you know how much I love that poor, unfor 
tunate little orphan " 

I cut her short. "Mamma, once and for all, I want you to 
understand that my daughter is not an orphan. I don t know 
what you are trying to do. You are doing everything you can 
to alienate my daughter from me. Your insane idea that I am 
deliberately planning to murder my child is bad enough. But 
the inhuman, horrible thing is that you dare to frighten little 
Gloria with your evil mind." She tried to take my hand. "I see 
you now for the first time," I added. "And I realize now that 
it is not love for what you term that poor, unfortunate orphan, 
but the Vanderbilt money which goes with her that is behind 
all this. You must be sick in your mind!" 

The next day I rented a small house at 14 Rue Alfred Roll, 
with room only for Gloria and myself. I at once advised Mamma 
of my decision to move. Her reaction was ominous. "I under 
stand, Gloria; but mark my words, I will see to it that you 
regret this for the rest of your life." A few weeks later little 
Gloria and I sailed for New York 



Mrs. Vanderbilt asked me to lunch and a matinee. I was 
surprised at her choice, for the subject of the play was hardly 
one I should think this rather strait-laced, Victorian lady would 
have chosen. It dealt with a manage de convenance, and, I had 
been told, was a bit risque. But I was delighted, as it was the 
big hit of the season and tickets were at a premium. 

On my way to Mrs. Vanderbilt s, my thoughts were on Mrs. 
George Gould, for 845 Fifth Avenue, where I was going, had 
also once been her home. Gloria Gould, Mrs. Gould s youngest 
daughter, and we had been great friends and Thelma and I had 
often been in this house as children. This was to be my first 
visit to it with its new chatelaine. I wondered if I would find 
it much changed. It was an interesting question, for here were 
two women as different as day and night Edith Gould, sophisti 
cated, worldly-wise, and a great beauty; the other quiet, reserved, 
upholding all the attributes of a society that was fast disappear 
ing. Mrs. Vanderbilt was not beautiful, unless you count the 
beauty that comes from character. 

Mrs. Vanderbilt came toward me as I entered the drawing 
room. It was a never-ending source of wonderment to me that 
so small and frail a woman could always dominate a room no 
matter how large. Objects seemed to dwarf themselves, recede 
into the shadows, but she always seemed to emerge clearly into 
focus, and there she was. I felt that she knew she had this gift 
and took advantage of it, for there is a little ham in all of us, 
no matter how exalted. 

Mrs. Reginald De Koven, the widow of the well-known com 
poser, was the other guest. Mrs. De Koven and my mother-in- 
law were old friends. Halfway through lunch the conversation, 
as conversations with older people often do, reverted to the 
past. They were remembering an era I had not known. My 
thoughts were elsewhere; I heard only snatches of their gossip, 
as if from far away. I heard Mrs. De Koven say, "Alice, do you 


remember the famous feud between Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish and 
Mrs. Goelet?" And later, "Newport certainly has changed." 

The butler was standing beside me. As I helped myself to 
dessert, I heard Mrs. Vanderbilt say, "No, I do not approve of 
these marriages of convenience." She must have been referring 
to the play we were going to see. "And what s more, they lead 
to a great deal of unhappiness. Take poor Consuelo Vanderbilt, 
She was made miserable for years because of it." 

Like a whip snapping, my mind went back to another scene. 
The room was the same, but like a fade-out and fade-in, as 
in a motion picture, the well-remembered dining room of old 
slowly came into view. The faces, the furniture, the time were 
different, the room lighter in decor, the people younger. As I 
looked around the table, I saw beautiful Edith Gould, gay, 
talkative, chic; on her right Mamma, effervescent, obviously en 
joying herself. Mrs. Gould and Mamma had been friends for 
years. Mrs. Gould s clear voice came back to me. "I do agree 
with you, Laura. Love in a rose-covered cottage is very well, 
but such feelings as the undying passion of a Paul and Virginia 
should remain in books." 

Mamma interrupted. "Not only that, Edith, but I firmly be 
lieve that arranged marriages tend to maintain a pure line of 
ancestry, and besides, they are the only way to control fortunes 
and keep them in the hands of the aristocrats where they 

This was the first time we had heard anybody else express 
Mamma s often-repeated ideas, and we wondered if Mrs. Gould s 
next remark would be, "It s just as easy to marry a rich man 
as a poor one." 

I had been fascinated by this adult conversation, and waited 
breathlessly for further pearls of wisdom. They came: 

"I wonder, Laura, if we don t put too much stress on breed 
ing," Mrs. Gould went on. "I had a provocative thought the 
other day. George and I were dining at Sherry s when one of 



his odd acquaintances came over to our table and without a 
by-your-leave sat down. His voice was loud, his tuxedo badly- 
tailored, his manners crude. A good-looking devil, really, but 
a diamond in the rough. While he was talking to George, I 
studied him and wondered: suppose this man were to be 
dressed by Savile Row, given a title, plenty of money, and 
polished manners well, I might even picture myself in his arms." 

"Oh, Edith, you couldn t!" I heard Mamma say. 

The butler s voice announcing, "Mrs. Vanderbilt, the car is 
at the door," brought me back to the present. 

As we rose from the table, sneaking a glance at Mrs. Vander 
bilt, I wondered, Oh, dear, what would she say if she could 
have read my thoughts? 

I returned to the Sherry-Netherland Hotel one day to find 
little Gloria just back from the park. She looked so cute and 
innocent in her little white fur coat. And she bubbled with 
chatter about the exciting things she had seen at the zoo. 

Only that morning I had received a letter from Friedel begging 
me to set a date for our marriage a marriage I now knew 
could never take place. The many talks I had had with the 
Surrogate and Mr. Wickersham made me realize that this 
alliance would eventually mean a separation from my child. 

The next few months were sad ones. I could not bear the 
thought of writing Friedel the letter I knew I must write. It 
was not until the first of December that I finally got the 
courage to act. 

Strange indeed are the things one remembers. I can still hear 
the little thump my letter made as I dropped it in the letter box. 

Friedel s answer came in a twenty-page letter which said, in 

Your lines have just arrived and you must understand that I cannot 
possibly comply with your wish to leave it unanswered. There you 
are asking too much of me and my love for you. 


Above all I must insist upon your telling Mrs. Vanderbilt the exact 
details. I want her to know and to see no blame has fallen on the 
name she bears so proudlythrough the fact of its being mentioned 
frequently with mine; and that it was not the glamor of a fortune 
that surrounded it that drew me toward you, nor will its absence 
make me drop its neighborhood. 

Both my father and my mother, who have informed you of this, 
are willing to do anything in their power for us. It would be of vital 
importance to know that that indomitable old lady sees you and her 
granddaughter taking up relations with our house de bonne grace 
et de bonne foi. I insist you tell Mrs. Vanderbilt our whole story, 
with all its details, and acquaint her with what we intend doing 
in the future. 

As I read and reread his words, my heart and mind were at 
odds. I could not understand my own motives. Was I being 
strong in giving up a deep and sincere love for the sake of my 
child? Or was I weak in that I was giving in to the emotional 
pressure of Mamma and the prejudiced views of Mr. Wicker- 
sham and the Surrogate? Was I being a fool to turn aside a 
love which would have given me what, after the welfare of 
Gloria, I wanted and needed most in this world? Perhaps I did 
not think long enough or hard enough. Perhaps I did not delve 
deeply enough into the legal tangle in which I was involved. 
I cabled Friedel that my decision, terrible as it was for me to 
make, must stand: there could be no marriage. 

Shortly after this we sailed back to Paris. A long letter awaited 
me from Princess Hohenlohe saying she would be in Paris the 
following week and that she had to see me. 

I waited in the high-ceilinged drawing room with foreboding 
and sorrow. Her letter had been so tender, so full of under 
standing, yet I knew why she had wanted to see me, and my 
answer would still have to be the same. 

Fernand, the butler who had been with me for several years, 
interrupted my mood by announcing that Her Royal Highness 



Princess Hohenlohe s car had just driven up. I got up and met 
her at the door. 

Her face, framed by the long, black crepe mourning veil 
she wore for her brother-in-law, King Ferdinand of Romania, 
looked troubled as she put her arms about me. 

"Gloria, my dear," she said, "do you realize you are breaking 
Friedel s heart? I m his mother and I can t bear to see him so 
unhappy. Both my husband and I, you know full well, would 
receive and love little Gloria." Then with a little smile she 
added, "After all, Schloss Langenburg is not such a terrible 
place to bring up a child. I m sure," and her voice gave evidence 
for the first and only time of how hurt she was, "not even the 
Vanderbilts with their wealth could deny that." 

Putting my hand on Princess Hohenlohe s, I said, "Please, 
ma am, it is not that, but as I told Friedel it just would not be 
fair to you, to him, or to Gloria. Please, ma am, I love Friedel 
with all my heart. I m only doing what I think is right." And 
I buried my face in my hands. 

"Gloria, my dear," she said softly, "I don t agree with you. 
I am sure Friedel could have made you and your little daughter 
very happy. But I admire you." Getting up, she added, "It 
would please Friedel and myself if you would lunch with us 

Returning to the drawing room after seeing her out, I sat 
numbly in front of the fireplace, watching the flames leap up, 
hearing the sharp crack, crack of the long silver-birch logs. 
Then wearily I went upstairs. Her words came back to me "But 
I admire you." Admire? What empty solace the word implied! 



Enter the Prince 


My premature delivery had been more difficult than I realized. 
It was more than a month before I was allowed to get up, and 
then for only a few hours at a time. 

Duke was away a good deal that early spring, coming to 
Burrough only for weekends, and sometimes not even then. 

Although I had lived in England nearly three years, I had 
never got quite used to the idea of husbands and wives accept 
ing invitations separately. I remember shortly after I married 
having lunch with Lady Carisbrook at Claridge s one day and 
asking her about it. In New York, I told her, it was rare to see 
one s married friends having lunch or dinner tete a tete with a 
man other than their husband. In London it seemed quite the 
natural thing to do. She kughed and said that many of her 
American friends had asked her the same question. She explained 
that in- England divorces were a much more serious matter than 
in the United States. A man, if divorced, would have to resign 
from his regiment, and, of course, was not allowed at Court; 
hence married couples stayed married. 

A few months after my son Tony s birth Duke, Gav, and I 
were dining at the Embassy Club when Peggy Hopkins Joyce 
walked in. I turned to Duke and said, "Oh, there s Peggy 
Hopkins." Duke looked at her appraisingly, then asked, <4 Who 
the bloody hell is Peggy Hopkins?" I laughed and told him that 



she was supposed to be one of the most glamorous women in 
America, and that she had had three or four husbands and many 
admirers including my first husband. I also told him that I had 
gone to California for my divorce because of her. (She was 
die unnamed woman in whose apartment, so the detectives 
informed me, Junior had whiled away so many nights.) Duke 
did not seem particularly impressed with her beauty, and took 
pains to make this point clear. I don t know what insane impulse 
took possession of me at that moment, but I turned to him and 
said, "I ll bet you ten pounds you can t get her to dance with 

"Don t be silly," Duke said. "Why should I want to dance 
with her?" 

"Oh, come on, old boy," Gav put in, "are you afraid she ll 
turn you down?" 

That did it. "All right," Duke said to me, "you ve got your 
self a bet." 

Duke caught her eye and smiled. Peggy Hopkins looked sur 
prised and a little uneasy. She, of course, knew who I was, but 
was not sure of Duke. I noticed her beckon to the headwaiter 
and obviously ask who Duke was. I turned to Gav and said, 
"Now that she knows who he is, watch me lose my bet." And 
sure enough, the next time Duke smiled at her, she smiled right 
back. Duke got up and walked over to her table; in a few 
minutes they were together on the dance floor. 

Duke began to be away more and more. Rumors started to 
get about that all was not well in the Furness household. I, of 
course, was the last to hear the gossip, and even if I had heard 
it, I would not have believed it. 

A month or so after this dinner Duke came to me and said 
he was going to Monte Carlo, He had been working very hard 
and needed a rest. I, of course, thought he meant me to go as 
well, but then he informed me that he had planned to go on 
his own. I was surprised, but did not think too much about it. 


A few days later, as I was walking down Bond Street, an ac 
quaintance of mine stopped me and said, "Fm so sorry to hear 
about you and Duke." It seemed that everyone but me knew 
Duke was staying at Peggy Hopkins villa in Monte Carlo, and 
not at the Hotel de Paris, as he had given me to understand. 
I was stunned as I walked back home. It couldn t be! It was 
just malicious gossip, I thought. His daily telephone calls, I was 
sure, were from the hotel. But were they? I had blissfully be 
lieved him when he told me that business had kept him away 
from England so much. But was it business? I asked myself 
now. I had to find out. I placed a personal call to the Hotel de 
Paris. My heart sank as I heard the operator say, "Viscount 
Furness is not registered here." 

I lay back on my bed and tried to think. The telephone brought 
me back with a start. "Lord Furness calling Lady Furness," I 
heard from far away, and Duke was on the telephone. His voice 
sounded gay and happy, but mine must have been listless, for 
he said, "What s the matter, darling, aren t you well?" 

I don t know what took possession of me, but I answered as 
cheerfully as I could. "Oh, I feel wonderful, just a little tired. 
I have been very gay since you ve been away parties night 
after night. Have you been having a nice rest?" 

The phone seemed to go dead. 

"Are you still there? Oh, I thought we had been cut off. I 
asked if you d been having a nice rest." 

"Yes, dear; and the weather s been lovely." 

"That s nice for you. It s been terrible here. I must dash! 
Call me tomorrow." I placed the receiver back on its cradle 
and cried. 

Parties night after night, indeed! An occasional dinner with 
Gav or Papa in London, weekends at Burrough with Tony and 
Averill, a theater party or two with Lady Sarahthis had been 
the extent of my gaiety. 

Duke returned a few days after this telephone conversation. 



I had had time to think, and had decided to say nothing about 
his affair, but at the same time I wanted him somehow to know 
that I knew. 

The day after his arrival Gav, Papa, Duke, and I were 
having a glass of sherry before lunch when I nonchalantly 
opened my purse and took out a check made out to Duke for 
the sum of ten pounds. 

"What s this for?" 

"Have you forgotten, dear? At the Embassy Club some weeks 
ago I bet you ten pounds you would not get Peggy Hopkins 
Joyce to dance with you. Well, you won." 

He looked puzzled as I smiled at him sweetly, adding, "You 
know, dear, it was only last week that I remembered the bet." 

"This is ridiculous," he said as he tore the check up and 
threw it into the fireplace. "It was a silly bet anyway, just a 

"Yes, I know, dear," I said, still smiling, "but the joke is on 
me. I lost the bet." 

Turning to Gav, I said, "What a pity. I can t ever make a 
bet with Duke again, if he s going to tear my checks up. It 
only means I will have to do the same with his should I win, 
and I had hoped to win this one back soon." 

My attitude was not as flippant as it may seem. I was trying 
desperately to grow up, to conform to my new milieu. The 
remark: "We don t take things like this as seriously as you do 
in your country," had fixed itself in my mind. 

But soon there was more gossip. This time it was more diffi 
cult for me to close my eyes. The lady in question, now happily 
married, I will call Mrs. X. She was a pretty young widow we 
had met at parties in London. I was heartsick when word got 
back to me that Duke was being seen with her. What had 
happened to us? Where had I failed? I wanted to ask Duke, but 
obviously this was impossible. 

Our lives went on outwardly more or less the same; but Duke 


made several trips that season and not always alone. I was now 
deeply hurt. I had been so content. Now I found myself terribly 
alone and lost. I did not know what to do, or where to turn. 

One day, as I was making up a guest list for a dinner party 
I was planning, Duke asked me to include Mrs. X. I was 
stunned. I looked at him in amazement. "Are you seriously 
asking me to invite that woman to our house, Duke?" 

He looked surprised. "Why, yes. Why not?" 

Why not! Didn t he realize that I knew of those numerous 
trips abroad with Mrs. X? Didn t he realize how miserable he 
had made me the past few months? And now he wanted me to 
receive her. "You can make a fool of yourself if you want," I 
said, "but you re not going to make one of me." 

I had to talk to somebody somebody who understood Duke; 
somebody who could advise me. I called Lady Sarah and asked 
if I could come around and see her. 

"Oh, Sarah darling, Duke has asked me to invite that woman 
to dinner," I said to her. "I won t do it! I won t have her in 
the house. And don t tell me anything about America. Hearts 
are broken there as well as everywhere else, but at least in 
America husbands don t bring their mistresses to pick up the 

"Do sit down, darling. You re upset. Let me order you a 

When the butler left, Sarah sat next to me, taking my hands 
in hers. "Listen, Thelma dear," she said, "you know Duke well 
enough by this time. You know he really loves you. You mustn t 
take his little peccadillos so seriously. Many a time Daisy has 
cried on my shoulder as you are doing now, and I am going to 
advise you just as I did her. Duke has always been terribly 
spoiled. He s always had his own way. Neither she, nor you, 
nor anyone else could ever change him. You love him. Think 
of Tony; think of yourself. What good would a separation or a 
divorce do? He, I am sure, doesn t want one. Give him enough 



rope, dear, he ll come to his senses. Wait and see." I knew she 
was right, but it was difficult to wait, difficult to reorganize my 

I spent most of that early summer of 1929 at Burrough with 
the children. Time hung heavily on my hands. Duke was away 
most of the time, and when he was there he was cool or distant 
and still persisted in going his own way. There were continuous 
arguments. My emotions ran the gamut from anger to self-pity 
and wounded pride. I found it more and more difficult to play 
second fiddle. 

Averill knew that all was not well with her father and me. 
Her sympathy and understanding were a great help to me at 
that time although, of course, I never discussed my problem with 
her. One morning she came into my bedroom and asked me if I 
would like to go with her to the Leicester Fair where she was 
showing her favorite hunter. It was a thoughtful and kind ges 
ture, for I was sure she must have sensed my unhappiness and 
loneliness and thought perhaps that the change would do me 
good. More to please her than anything else, I went. 

The Leicester Fair is one of the big occasions in the Midlands. 
Breeders from all over the country bring their horses, hunters, 
cattle, poultry. There is also a flower show. When we arrived, 
it looked as though all rural England were on a holiday in 
Leicester. Yet with all the men, women, and children milling 
around me I felt more lonely than ever. 

Averill had gone off to see about her hunter. I had walked 
through the flower show, when I saw a big crowd around one 
of the rings, I was curious to see what had attracted such a 
gathering. I put my arms on the railing of the ring and beheld 
nothing but five or six prize cows looking very soulful and 
bored. I sympathized with them; I, too, was soulful and bored. 
A young man was pinning a blue ribbon on one of the cows. 
My mind darted back to Londonderry House, to a Viennese 



waltz. I smiled to myself. Here was the Prince of Wales pinning 
rosettes on cows. He saw me and came over. 

"This is the first opportunity I ve had to congratulate you on 
the birth of your son, Lady Furness," he said graciously. 

"Thank you, sir," I answered. 

"Are you at Burrough for the summer, or do you plan to 
come up to London at all?" 

"Oh, no, sir, I go to London often. As a matter of fact, I 
plan to be there next week." 

I don t know what made me say it, for up to that moment 
I had had no intention of doing any such thing. 

"How nice. Will you dine with me?" 

"Why, thank you, sir," I said; "I should love to." 

"Will Wednesday night be all right? Fine! St. James s Palace, 
eight o clock. We ll have cocktails and then go out for dinner 
and a dance." There was not a word about Duke s joining us. 
Perhaps Duke was right, I concluded: English people thought 
nothing of inviting married people separately. 

I never learned whether or not Averill won a ribbon that day. 
My mind was on other things. Had I been right in accepting 
the Prince s invitation? Was my pride or my heart hurt when 
Duke said he wanted to live his own life? Was I trying to get 
even? Or was I merely flattered, as I m sure most women would 
have been, to be asked to dine with the Prince of Wales? 

That weekend it rained almost continuously. I spent as much 
time with Tony as Nanny would let me. English nannies are a 
law unto themselves. From the moment you put your baby in 
their arms they nobly allow you to adore him, but nothing 
more; all other privileges are theirs. 

I had said nothing to anyone about my dinner engagement 
with the Prince. The night before I was to go up to London, 
Duke, Averill, Dick, and I were dining alone. Halfway through 
dinner I turned to the butler and said, "Please tell Elise to pack 
a few things. I am going up to London for a few days." 



Duke looked up. "You are going up to London?" 

"Yes," I said coldly. "I have a dinner engagement tomorrow 

Duke smiled. "May I ask with whom?" 

I wanted to say, "I thought married people did not ask such 
silly questions." I wanted to say, "Yes, I, too, can lead my own 
life." There were so many things I wanted to say, but I said 
only, "Why, yes. If you really want to know, I am dining with 
the Prince of Wales." 

Dick laughed. Averill looked up and winked. Duke repeated, 
"With whom?" 

"The Prince of Wales, dear." I smiled as I took a sip of my 
champagne. I didn t know whether they believed me or not 
and I didn t care. 

I arrived at York House, St. James s Palace, at eight o clock 
sharp* To my surprise, there were no other guests. I looked 
around me. The room I found myself in was big; an enormous 
map of the world covered the entire far wall. A Jarge and 
beautiful Empire desk dominated the corner of the room by 
the window. Comfortable quilted chintz sofas had been placed 
on each side of the fireplace, over which hung a portrait of 
Queen Mary in a white evening gown wearing the Order of 
the Garter, a magnificent diamond tiara on her head, and a 
fabulous diamond necklace around her neck. I found out later 
that this room was the Prince s private sitting room. The state 
rooms were on the ground floor. 

It is exceedingly difficult, at this time, to recall the exact emo 
tions I had as I entered the room. The moment is important; 
this was a turning point in my life, even if I was not fully 
aware of it at the time. It marked officially the beginning of the 
breakup of my marriage to Duke, although it was not until 
many months later, when I was sitting with the Prince beside a 



campfire deep in the African veldt, that this fact became clear 
to me. 

Naturally I was excited. I was conscious of the fluttering of 
my pulse, of a vague sense of expectancy. At such times we have 
a heightened excitement, a premonition of a significant change 
in our lives, even though the actual image of this change is not 
clear. The excitement was derived more from the situation than 
the man. 

I had been terribly hurt when Duke told me that I was too 
American in my ideas about married life, that in England hus 
bands and wives went on their own. This was something I 
simply didn t understand. If I had been wiser in those days, I 
would have understood, and taken Duke s words and actions for 
what they were worth. But as it was, I was simply hurt. And 
even though the Peggy Hopkins episode was no more than what 
I could call "a bit of fluff," and could ignore, there was the other 
woman who came in, a woman I could very well receive in 
my house, and Duke had asked me to receive her. It was then 
that I was really hurt. And all of this had occurred so soon after 
Tony s birth. And this is why, when I went to the Leicester Fair, 
and the Prince of Wales asked me to dine with him, my first 
reaction was: "Well, all right, if Duke wants me to lead my own 
life, I will." 

When the Prince asked me, I had been flattered, of course. And 
my openness to the invitation was largely a matter of pique. I 
never dreamed, then, for a moment, that anything serious would 
come of it. A year earlier I would never have accepted; but, by 
the same token, I don t think that a year earlier the Prince would 
have asked me. But at this time he knew that Duke was running 
around; he must have everybody knew it. And I am sure he 
would not have asked me for dinner without asking Duke, too, 
if things had been as before. At least I don t think he would 
have asked me. 

The Prince seemed to me to be winsomely handsome. He was 



the quintessence of charm. And after the swaggering earthiness 
of Duke, the Prince s natural shyness and reserve had a distinct 

We sat by the fireplace and had cocktails, while the Prince 
chatted pleasantly about the small things one can discuss without 
strain or effort. In time he asked me where I would like to go 
for dinner. We decided on the Hotel Splendide, which was 
famous for its cuisine and its Viennese orchestra. It was a happy 
choice; we both loved to waltz, and it was significant to me that 
our first evening together should be in three-quarter time. 

Aside from a little stir among waiters and guests as we entered, 
no one paid the slightest attention to us. We might have been 
any two young people out for an evening of pleasure. We talked 
of many things; of my sister, Consuelo, whom he had met in 
South America some years back. What fun he had had at her 
house; just little things like that. The admiration in his eyes as 
we danced, the frank, disarming way in which he spoke, as if 
there had never been a time when we did not know one another, 
quickened my heart. It all seemed so natural, so right. 

As he drove me home that night, he said, "Thank you, Thelma, 
for a wonderful evening. Please let me call you soon again." 

"Of course, sir." My reply was obvious. 



The Trap 


I was in London, visiting Consuelo and her husband, Benny 
Thaw, when I received a letter from "Uncle George" Wicker- 
sham, announcing, in positive terms, that it was the wish of the 
Surrogate that, "in Gloria s best interest," I make my home in 
America. I returned at once, taking little Gloria with me, and 
talked with Mr. Wickersham. "Uncle George" was zealously 
paternal. And in the unctuous tones of a man giving fatherly 
advice to a rebellious daughter, he said, "I think you will have to 
comply with the Surrogate s wishes." 

"I m perfectly willing to live in America," I answered, "but I 
have a lease on die Paris house, and it still has three years to run." 

"I m sorry, but I can do nothing about it," Mr. Wickersham 
said. Nevertheless, after more discussion it appeared that he 
could do something about it. We reached a compromise: I 
would have one more year in which to wind up my affairs in 
Paris. Meanwhile, I made application to enter Gloria at Miss 
Chapin s school, for which there was a long waiting list. 

When I got back to Paris I had a call from Consuelo in Lon 
don. She and Benny were celebrating their wedding anniversary 
with a large dinner dance, and she wanted me to cross to London 
and be with them. Once again I packed. 

A few days after the celebration, Consuelo called me, about 
five one afternoon, to ask if I would like to be presented at court 



the following day. She explained that one of the American girls 
who had a place on the presentation schedule of the American 
Embassy had come down with the mumps or measles, and I could 
take her place. 

I was much too curious not to take advantage of the situation. 
But as soon as I hung up I suddenly said to myself, "Good 
heavens, what am I going to wear? " I immediately called Thelma, 
and Thelma offered me her train, the required three feathers, and 
a veil. Fortunately I had with me a gown which was elaborate 
enough for the occasion. But what of jewelry? I was only visiting 
in England; I had not brought any of my own jewels. I needed 
a tiara, and all the other things that make a lady look regally 
resplendent. I called up Nada Milford-Haven. "I shall look 
naked," I said. 

"You re in the best of luck," Nada said. "I have just taken 
from the bank two tiaras, a pearl necklace, and a brooch to be 
cleaned, and appraised for re-evaluation by the insurance people. 
Come over and see me." 

I went at once to her house. And there, sitting on a table, were 
two tiaras. One was a most beautiful tiara, with sapphires as big 
as plover eggs. The other was a combination of pearls and 
diamonds. There were also a sautoir and a brooch of pearls. 

"May I borrow the diamond-and-pearl tiara?" I asked, "be 
cause I have my own pearls. And with the sautoir and the brooch, 

"Certainly," said Nada; "take what you want." 

These jewels came from her father, the Grand Duke Michael 
of Russia. What I was being loaned, consequently, if not Crown 
jewels, were at least "grand duke s" jewels; they were sensational. 

As my car inched its way up the Mall toward Buckingham 
Palace the next day, I was fascinated with the crowds that had 
come out to see the ladies in their finery who were about to be 
presented. Some of the comments were very colorful and highly 
amusing. One little cockney woman poked her head into the car, 


took a quick look at my sparkling array, and announced: "Lord 
love a duck it s the Queen of Sheba! " 

I finally got to the palace and was presented. I curtsied to the 
King and Queen. And as I rose, I almost died. There, sitting to 
the left, among the members of the royal family, was Nada 
Milf ord-Haven, wearing the other tiara. She winked. 

Mamma by this time had settled in New York. It later appeared 
that she had done much more than "settle"; she was in constant 
communication with Mr. Wickersham; and she informed Mr. 
Wickersham of every move I made. 

I came back to America, in accordance with my agreement, 
and found a house I liked at 49 East Seventy-second Street a 
house belonging to Schuyler Parsons. Before renting this, how 
ever, I called Mr. Wickersham. "I ve found a house which I 
think will be rather nice," I said, "but under the circumstances 
since you are the guardian of Gloria s property I should like 
your approval." 

Mr. Wickersham looked at the house with me. "Yes," he 
agreed, "this is a beautiful house; I think it will be perfect for 
you and Gloria." The following day I signed the lease. At that 
point, Mr. Gilchrist turned to me and said, "By the way, Mrs. 
Vanderbilt, you probably will be needing a butler. I have just 
the man for you. He wrote to me, recently, looking for a place. 
He was the butler of a client of mine, Mr. Shattuck, the owner 
of the Schraff t restaurants. He has been with the Shattucks for 
years; he is an excellent man." 

"Certainly," I said, "I shall talk with him." The man came to 
see me. His name was Charles Zanck; he was very presentable, 
obviously a trained butler, and I engaged him. It was not until 
the trial that I learned that although Zanck had been the 
Shattucks butler, he had also been put in their employ by Mr. 

I was also without a chauffeur at that time. Again Mr. Gilchrist 



was ready with a recommendation. "I have somebody whom I 
can recommend highly, a man called Theodore Beasley." 

Sometime later, at a dinner party, my sister Consuelo found 
herself seated next to Mr. Taf t of Cadwalader, Wickersham and 
Taft. Turning to him, she said sweetly, "By the way, Mr. Taft, 
how s the employment agency going?" Mr. Taft appeared to be 
quite bewildered. "Your Mr. Gilchrist," Consuelo said, "seems 
to be in charge of that department as far as my sister goes." 

Nor were Mr. Gilchrist s extralegal activities confined to the 
hiring of household help. My mother once gave him for safe 
keeping my grandfather s West Point commission, drafted at 
West Point and signed by Abraham Lincoln, with a letter at 
tached, written by Lincoln, complimenting my grandfather on 
his achievements. These papers, framed, hung on the wall of 
Mr. Gilchrist s home. None of us could get these family me 
mentoes back because Mr. Gilchrist claimed my mother handed 
them to him not for safekeeping, but as a gift. I often wondered 
how Mr. Gilchrist could discover a way in which their presence 
on his wall did him honor. 

It was necessary now for me to go to Paris to close the house 
there and ship the furniture to New York; I left little Gloria 
with Mrs. Whitney on Long Island. What followed was a 
barrage of alarms. On the ship to France I received a radio 
gram from Keislich saying that Gloria must be operated on 
at once for infected tonsils. I immediately took the next ship 
back. As usual another false alarm. Gertrude suggested that 
Gloria stay with her on Long Island, then join her cousins, the 
William H. Vanderbilts, at Newport. Again I sailed for France. 
No sooner had I arrived in Paris than a cable from Gertrude 
announced that Gloria had a severe pain on the right side, the 
doctor had diagnosed this as appendicitis, and was preparing to 
operate. Again I got ready to return. Before my ship sailed, how 
ever, a second cable from her explained that the doctor by this 


time doctors had discovered that Gloria did not have appendi 
citis, and there was no danger. And thus the cables volleyed 
back and forth across the Atlantic all fulfilling a single purpose: 
to stir my fears, and to establish as fact that Gloria was a sickly 
child the extent of whose infirmities was not adequately ap 
preciated by her mother. 

By the end of August I had closed the Paris house and returned 
to New York. Immediately, on arriving here, I took a train to 
Newport, where little Gloria finally had been sent. I found her 
in radiant health. She was enjoying her summer, and she seemed 
to be delighted with the idea of moving into our new home in 
September and going to Miss Chapin s school. Only Keislich 
did not seem happy about these arrangements; but I attributed 
her disapproval to the fact that my household did not have the 
grandeur of Mrs. Whitney s. 

I met Gloria at the station on her return from Newport. When 
I arrived, I saw Gertrude s car and chauffeur. I was not surprised 
at this as I did not as yet have a car of my own. I thought it a 
nice gesture on Gertrude s part. Nothing warned me or gave me 
the slightest hint that this was a prearranged move, not even 
when I told the chauffeur to go to Seventy-second Street and 
Keislich spoke up and said, "Mrs. Vanderbilt, the plans are 
to go to Mrs. Whitney s." 

"Certainly not," I said. We are going home." 

We had not been in the house for long when Gertrude tele 
phoned and asked if I had heard from Dr. St. Lawrence. (Dr. 
St. Lawrence, who had been highly recommended to me by 
Gertrude, was the doctor who also attended her grandchildren.) 

I was surprised and asked, "Why?" 

She then suggested I see him as soon as possible, as she was 
concerned about Gloria s health. I was surprised, for Gloria 
looked very well; but Gertrude s tone of voice worried me. 

The following day I went to see Dr. St. Lawrence. This tall, 



distinguished, gray-haired man was in the category of doctors 
who address you as "little mother." 

His first words to me were that Gloria was not a well child, 
the climate of New York City was bad for her, and she should 
return immediately to Westbury. When I protested that Gloria 
seemed the picture of health, he sighed and said, "Little mother, 
naturally it s up to you, but I strongly advise you that a winter 
in New York will be most detrimental to her health." 

I should have had more sense and called for another opinion, 
but my trust in Mrs. Whitney led my steps straight to her house. 
Her attitude was sympathetic. "Now don t worry, Gloria," she 
said. "I m sure the little one will be all right in time, and she ll 
surely be well enough to come to you in the spring. She can 
attend Greenvale School with my grandchildren and you can 
visit her. I know it s hard to have to be parted from your little 
girl, but this is the right thing and you must follow Dr. St. 
Lawrence s advice, dear." 

There was no indication in her manner that she knew exactly 
what Dr. St. Lawrence had said to me, knew exactly what my 
reactions would be. Gloria went to Westbury that day. And in 
the months that followed I saw her only at the Whitney estate. 
Each time she was to return to me, Dr. St. Lawrence discovered 
some new symptom of frailty. 

Meanwhile, a strange net began to close in around me. I was 
in constant anxiety about Gloria s health. The anxiety was ac 
centuated by her absence, and the sequence of oddly accidental 
or coincidental conditions that seemingly made this prolonged 
absence necessary. Then one day "Uncle George" launched an 
attack from another quarter. He informed me that the Surrogate 
had objected to the fact that I was keeping up a house with 
Gloria not in it! 

I was livid. "Obviously," I said, "the Surrogate is not aware of 
the true situation. I have an appointment with Dr. St. Lawrence 


tomorrow and I insist that you or Mr. Gilchrist come with me 
and learn exactly what s what." 

When we arrived at Dr. St. Lawrence s office, he was the same 
soothingly suave diplomat I had found him to be. He told Mr. 
Gilchrist that he admired me tremendously for sacrificing myself 
for Gloria s good, and that it was entirely on his advice that I 
had left the child all these months with Mrs. Whitney. 

Suddenly his even, smooth voice changed. He looked at Mr. 
Gilchrist steadily, and emphatically said, "I will wash my hands 
of the whole case if my advice is disregarded and the child re 
moved from the country. She must be left for the present where 
the climate agrees with her." 

Mr. Gilchrist listened with attention as though weighing the 
evidence of the doctor s ultimatum. 

"It is best to leave the child in Westbury," he said. 

Returning in the car I said to Mr. Gilchrist, "Now that you 
see the situation, will you please make application to the Surro 
gate for sufficient funds for me to rent a house on Long Island, 
if that is where Gloria should live, so that I can finally have her 
with me? Perhaps I could rent the New York house." 

(This application was denied on the ground that, since Mrs. 
Whitney was willing to have the child at no cost, it was unnec 
essary to incur added expense.) 

On our return to the house, Mamma was waiting in the draw 
ing room. 

"Gloria," she said, "I want to talk to you and I want you to 
listen carefully to what I have to say. While you have been kind 
to me, no one knows how bitter it is to live on the charity of 
others. When your daughter is twenty-one you will have to live 
on hers, and I am telling you, you won t like it! If you will per 
mit her to live with Mrs. Whitney, I am informed" she shifted 
her words hurriedly "I mean I feel sure Mrs. Whitney will 
support you for life if you will consent to this." 



Many things of an impossible nature had been said by my 
mother in the past, but nothing to equal this. 

"You must be mad to say such a thing to me. I am not selling 
my child." 

"You use such big words," she replied, clamping her lips 

She started toward the door. Then, mrning to me, she said 
with a settled calm I found disquieting, "You had better recon 
sider, or you will be sorry." 

With that she left. 

The next day I sent the following letter to "Uncle George": 

Sept. 20 
Dear Mr. Wickersham: 

I appreciate your expression of justification in sending Gloria to 
Long Island, and that I will be relieved of any criticism in accord 
ance with the very generous offer of Mrs. Whitney of having Gloria 
with one added exception. My position in regard to the court as to 
the upkeep we have incurred in this house. I should like to know 
definitely how we are going to deal with this question. 

Will I be subject to criticism, keeping up this house, since Gloria 
is not here? It is very essential for my peace of mind that you should 
clear up this situation so that I may know how I should act. I again 
stress the point, with her enforced absence both financial and moral 
not fall as a criticism from the court on me? 

Hoping to hear from you at once on this subject, I am, as ever, 


To this came "Uncle George s" reply, dated the same day: 

Sept. 20 
My dear Gloria: 

Mr. Gilchrist has told me of the interview which you and he had 
yesterday with Dr. St. Lawrence, at which the doctor expressed the 
opinion that little Gloria should not live in New York this coming 
winter but ought to be sent to Long Island as she was last year. 
This being the advice of a competent physician I think you are 


thoroughly justified accordingly, and that the interest of the child 
very properly leaves you to decide to send her to Long Island for 
the coming season. I understand there is an excellent school there to 
which she can be sent and thus her education will not suffer. I under 
stand that Mrs. Whitney has offered to take the child for the winter 
without adding to her living expenses. This will, of course, relieve 
you of any criticism in that regard. 

Faithfully yours, 


The attitude of the guardians of the property in this circum 
stance could not be plainer than this letter of "Uncle George s" 

The early winter of 1933 found me ill in bed. The removal of 
two wisdom teeth had resulted in an infection. The last person 
I wanted to see was Mr. Gilchrist, but "Uncle George" had 
phoned me to say that the yearly application to the Surrogate s 
Court for the guardianship of the property would have to be 
made in a few days, and as he had been ill for some rime would 
I approve of Mr. Gilchrist acting in this capacity for the coming 

I told him I would, and he said, "That s fine then. Mr, Gil 
christ will call on you this afternoon for your signature." 

Suave, businesslike, his brief case in hand, Mr. Gilchrist sat 
down beside my bed and presented a formidable array of legal 
documents. Seeing my startled terror, he smiled and said, "Oh, 
this won t take long, Mrs. Vanderbilt. Just sign here." 

I don t know why, but I had a premonition, a strong feeling of 
mistrust. Why was he rushing me so? Looking sweetly at him, 
I answered through my locked teeth, "Why, Mr. Gilchrist, you 
surprise me. Papa always told me never to sign anything without 
reading it first." 

"Yes, of course. I just didn t want to tire you needlessly," he 
said, handing me the papers. 

I read carefully every legalistic word in the first half of a long 



sheet of foolscap. Then suddenly one word leaped from the 
page: the word "person." The passage read: "I, Gloria Morgan 
Vanderbilt, respectfully petition the Court to appoint Thomas 
B. Gilchrist as guardian of the person and property of my daugh 
ter, Gloria Laura Morgan Vanderbilt." 

I put the paper down. "Mr. Gilchrist," I said, "Mr. Wicker- 
sham has, at my request, acted as guardian of the property of 
Gloria since Reggie s death, but never of the person of my child. 
That I am, naturally, myself!" 

"Oh, Mrs. Vanderbilt, that never was intended," Mr. Gilchrist 
hastened to say. "That s just a slight error on the part of the 
secretary. I will cross it out." 

I was now more than cautious. When Mr. Gilchrist had 
stricken out the offending word, I said sweetly, "Now please 
initial the change on the margin." Meekly Mr. Gilchrist com 

As the nurse showed him to the door, a frightening thought 
came to me: law offices do not often make mistakes of this kind. 

I had met Nathan Burkan, the famous lawyer, at a large party 
given by A. C. Blumenthal, whom I had met with Will Stewart. 
Now, as soon as I was well enough, I went to see him. I told 
him of the incident with Mr. Gilchrist. 

Mr. Burkan s face grew serious. "When," he asked, "were you 
appointed guardian of the child?" 

"Never," I replied. I told him of my talks with "Uncle 
George" Wickersham, when I had returned from Europe, at his 
suggestion, to make my home in America. Mr. Wickersham, I 
explained, did not inform me that on becoming of age I was in 
a legal position to apply formally to the courts for the proper 
guardianship papers. If he had once said to me, "Gloria, you are 
of age now. You are the mother of the child, and now have the 
right to apply for the guardianship of her person," I certainly 
would have made the application. No word had ever been 


breathed to me then, or in the subsequent years, that this was my 

"Well," said Mr. Burkan, "it is high time that you established 
your legal rights. You should apply to the court to be made sole 
guardian of the person of your child, and joint guardian of her 

"Will you act for me?" I asked Mr. Burkan. 

Mr. Burkan then took the necessary steps to establish as a 
legal fact the right every other mother assumes as a matter of 
course: the right of guardianship over her own child. 

The petition filed by Mr. Burkan was to be heard on July 3, 
in the court of Surrogate Foley. I told Mr. Burkan I would like 
to go with him to the hearing; I had never been inside a court, 
and I was interested in seeing the procedure. Mr. Burkan smiled 
grimly. "The less you see of courts," he said prophetically, "the 
better." He also pointed out that it was in no way necessary for 
me to be present, the procedure was only a formality, but I 
insisted on attending. 

There were three or four hundred spectators at the Surro 
gate s hearing. Mr. Burkan rose and addressed the bench. When 
he had finished speaking, a strange, small, impeccably dressed 
man who had been sitting in the back of the room jumped to his 
feet and said, "I object to the petition." 

"On what grounds? " Mr. Burkan asked. 

The man s answer was barked across the room. "On the 
grounds that Mrs. Vanderbilt is unfit." 

All I remember of the moment that followed is the expression 
on the face of Surrogate Foley, who knew me well; his features 
were frozen, as if caught in a flash photograph. The Surrogate 
immediately banged the gavel. "Court adjourned," he said. Then, 
turning to Mr. Burkan, he added, "I will hear this case in my 
chambers after lunch." 

Obviously, I was stunned. None of the events leading to this 
moment had made sense to me; there seemed to be no logic, no 



reason, no consistency or purpose in what I had seen happen; 
and now even the hearing made no sense. 

I went to lunch with Mr. Burkan in a small restaurant a few 
blocks from the court. "Translate this to me," I said to Mr. 
Burkan. "In plain words, what does this accusation mean?" 

Mr. Burkan was too direct a man to confuse the issue and too 
great a lawyer to jeopardize my interests at the expense of my 
feelings. "In plain words," he said, "the word unfit in this 
connection alleges that the woman to whom it is applied is 
unmoral and immoral." 

Before the hearing was resumed my accuser was identified. He 
was Walter Dunnington, of the Wall Street law firm, Dunning- 
ton and Gregg. Mr. Burkan challenged him as soon as we had 
assembled in Judge Foley s chambers. Addressing the Court, 
Mr. Burkan said, "I must refuse, Your Honor, to proceed in this 
case unless I am informed who is bringing the complaint object 
ing to the guardianship." 

Surrogate Foley put the question to Mr. Dunnington. Mr. 
Dunnington flushed. "Does Mrs. Vanderbilt insist on knowing?" 
he asked, obviously embarrassed. 

Mr. Burkan was adamant. "Mrs. Vanderbilt," he said, speak 
ing for me, "insists on knowing." 

Speechless, I nodded my head. 

Mr. Dunnington lowered his voice, as if to conceal some un 
speakable shame. "The complainant is Mrs. Vanderbilt s own 
mother, Mrs. Morgan." 

I could not believe what I heard. "The complainant is Mrs. 

Vanderbilt s own mother "I was stupefied. Such things do 

not happen. Here was Mamma the mother I lovednow trying 
to destroy me. My own mother was calling me "unfit," immoral. 
The blow was too heavy to bear. 

I drove directly from the courthouse to my mother s apart 
ment hotel on East Sixtieth Street. The desk clerk informed me 
that Mamma was "not in." I insisted on being shown to her apart- 


ment. The clerk became flustered. "Just a minute, Mrs. Vander 
bilt," he said, "I will have to call the manager." 

The manager was extremely apologetic, but he apparently had 
orders and intended to act on them. "I m terribly sorry, Mrs. 
Vanderbilt, but Mrs. Morgan s instructions are that if you even 
make an attempt to get into the elevator, I am to send for the 
police and have you ejected." 

I wrote a note to Mamma saying that it was of great impor 
tance that I see her at once. I handed this to the manager and left. 

I went back to my house. A short while later Mamma arrived. 
She was gay, genial, exuberant; and as soon as she caught sight 
of me she came up to me, as if nothing had happened at all, and 
tried to kiss me. 

"Don t, Mamma," I said, cringing. "I can t bear that now." 

Mamma looked at me in surprise. 

"Why, why, Mamma? Why have you done this to me?" 

Mamma s answer can be condensed into its standard form, her 
old, banal catch phrase: "What I have done, I have done only for 
the good of the child." 

I looked at her and found myself almost speechless. There is a 
type of amazement that paralyzes the nerves of reaction an 
amazement that comes from a sudden realization of the futility 
of an attempt to make sense. All I could do was to murmur 
vaguely, almost as if I were talking to myself, "For the child s 
good, Mamma? How can it be for the child s good if you destroy 
her mother?" 

Finally I pulled my wits together, and as I did, I was seized 
with a blind rage. "Leave me, Mamma! " I shouted. "You must be 
mad; you don t know what you re doing!" 

Mamma walked slowly to the door. Then pausing, with one 
hand on the doorknob, she said menacingly, "Gloria, I am advis 
ing you not to fight this. I have behind me money, political influ 
ence, and the Vanderbilt family. I am telling you this for your 
own good. If you try to fight it, you ll regret it." 



When Mamma left, I scarcely knew what to do. In my con 
fusion and panic I decided to talk face to face with Gertrude 
Whitney. I called on her at once. 

The butler opened the front door of the Whitney house. I 
stumbled down the few steps in the front vestibule, passed the 
bronze doors in the lower hall, and ran up the marble stairs to 
her drawing room. I was too agitated to think strategically. I 
plunged immediately into my subject. "Gertrude," I said, "do 
you know what happened today in Judge Foley s court?" 

"No," she said innocently. "What happened? Sit down and 
tell me." 

I told her in detail. Then I said, "I m going to ask you some 
thing that may sound to you impertinent. I have just left my 
mother. She told me that she will oppose my guardianship of 
Gloria; and she said that behind her were money, political influ 
ence, and the Vanderbilt family. You know my mother says she 
has no money except what Thelma and I allow her, so someone 
is behind this case. Is it you?" 

Gertrude s voice acquired the steel precision of a saw blade, 
controlled and cutting. "Gloria," she said, "if you were not so 
upset I would ask you to leave this house." 

My breath left me; it was impossible for me to speak. Some 
thing about this reaction seemed to touch her. Her voice imme 
diately softened. "I m going to answer that directly," she said. 
"And the answer is emphatically no. I have always loved you. 
My mother loved you. I am horrified. Why, why should your 
mother want to do this to you? " 

At this moment the butler came into the room. "Mrs. Mor 
gan," he said, "is downstairs." 

Gertrude put her hand on my arm. "That dreadful woman! 
I can t see her now. Go down, Gloria. Tell her you have been 
wailing for me, and that Fm not here. I ll get in touch with you 

I met Mamma downstairs. She followed me to my car. In 


silence I dropped her at her hotel. Gertrude called me later that 
evening and said, "Don t worry, dear, everything is all right." 

Eventually there was a meeting in Surrogate Foley s chambers. 
At this meeting were Gertrude Whitney and her lawyers, John 
Godfrey Saxe and Walter Dunnington, and my lawyer, Nathan 
Burkan, and myself. Surrogate Foley suggested a custody agree 
ment, and this suggestion was accepted verbally by Mrs. Whit 
ney and myself, and the witnesses to this were our lawyers. This 
was the substance of the agreement: that I was to be made sole 
guardian of Gloria s person and joint guardian of her property 
to be effective immediately. But because of the doctor s advice, 
Gloria was to remain at the Whitney estate for one more year. In 
September she would stay with me for a month. At the end of 
the year I would have little Gloria with me for good. 

This, it is to be emphasized, was a verbal agreement. 



Quick Sand 


After the conclusion of this agreement, I sailed with Consuelo 
for Europe. Consuelo left the ship at Le Havre, to join Benny 
Thaw who was then stationed in Oslo. I went on to London to 
be with Thelma. 

Friedel Hohenlohe, who recently had married Princess Mar 
garita of Greece, wrote that it would give him and Margarita 
much pleasure if Thelma and I would visit them in Langenburg. 
I had previously met Margarita when she was staying at Kensing 
ton Palace with her grandmother, the dowager Marchioness of 
Milford-Haven. Her mother was George Milford-Haven s sister; 
her father, Prince Andrew of Greece, was first cousin to the late 
King George of England. Margarita is the sister of the Duke of 
Edinburgh. The last time I had seen her was in Paris, at a large 
dinner Papa had given at the Russian Eagle. 

Thelma and I accepted the invitation. We spent many delight 
ful days at the Schloss. We walked happily through the formal 
gardens planted in the old moat, sometimes alone, sometimes with 
Friedel and Margarita; and in this medieval setting we felt that 
we had been transported back to another century. Meanwhile, I 
came to know what a lovely human being Margarita is; I ap 
preciated her beauty, which seems to come from an inner 
radiance; I felt the purity of character and the loyalty and devo- 


tion which are such signal parts of her nature. We became firm 

Thelma and I later went to Paris, where we were the guests of 
Aly Khan and his father, the late Aga Khan; and, together with 
Daisy Fellowes and Lady Granard, attended one of the most 
important sporting events of the Paris seasona night race at 
Longchamp. This occasion was unusually festive. In front of 
our box in the grandstand was a platform, and on this were staged 
dance performances by the Corps de Ballet of the Paris Opera 
and of the Imperial Russian Ballet. At other points around the 
racecourse nine different orchestras were playing. In the last 
race Aly himself rode, although, to the disappointment of our 
party, he did not win. 

We then went back to London. 

Papa at this time was staying with Thelma. One morning, 
when Thelma and I were sitting in her dressing room, Papa 
entered. He sat down, looking very tired and worn. For the 
first time I was aware of the fact that he had aged. 

"Here you are sitting together," Papa said sadly, "and yet 
there is not a word about it from either of you." 

We had no idea what he was referring to. 

"What are you talking about, Papa?" I asked. 

"Don t you know?" he said. "Your mother has divorced me." 

The statement did not make sense to us. "How could Mamma 
have divorced? What are you talking about?" Thelma asked. 
"First, she would have had to serve you with papers." 

"She has served me by publication, which she could do under 
Maryland law," Papa announced. It seems that she had divorced 
him on the grounds of desertion, and she had served notice of it 
by publishing an item in the Baltimore papers, which, of course, 
none of us saw. The unforgivable part of this action was not the 
divorce itself but the unnecessarily underhanded methods 
Mamma had used to obtain it. There was then no open breach 
between Mamma and my father, or between Mamma and her 



children. She was writing constantly to Thelma; she knew Papa 
was living with her. She knew exactly where to find him. And 
while Mamma and my father had not lived together since Papa 
was stationed at Brussels, there never had been an actual sepa 
ration between them. They had been married thirty-three years. 

My father never recovered from this blow, 

I returned to New York. Eventually, when I judged the mo 
ment proper, I asked Mamma how she could have brought herself 
to do such a thing. Her answer was unpredictable, as usual to 
her the divorce was just a "joke." "You know your father," she 
said. "He s always gallivanting about, and I wouldn t want to 
stand in his way should he want to marry someone else." 

A few months later our father died. Consuelo arrived in Lon 
don too late to see Papa alive. After the funeral, I went with her 
to Oslo and stayed two weeks with her and Benny Thaw. When 
the time came for me to return to New York, she refused to let 
me go alone. She made the trip with me, and we both settled 
down in the Seventy-second Street house. Meanwhile, Mrs. 
Vanderbilt had died, leaving me $ 100,000. 

In September, at long last Gloria was to move in with me. She 
had spent the summer in the Adirondacks with Mrs. Whitney, 
and now that she was to come to a home of her own, I had done 
everything I could to fix her room the way I thought she would 
like it. I had gotten her a Louis XVI bed much like mine, which 
in Paris she had loved. I had it upholstered in flowered chintz, to 
make it seem cheerful and inviting. And when Gloria saw the 
room, she put her arms around me and said, "Oh, Mummy, how 
grand. I feel like a grown-up lady in this room." 

I was overjoyed that Gloria was at last with me; and I was so 
happy that she was pleased. Now there would be no more sepa 
ration, no more worries for either of us. 

We had lunch together. Then Gloria went out in Central 



Park with her nurse, Keislich, and the chauffeur, Beasley, who 
had been hired through Mr. Gilchrist. 

Consuelo was with me that afternoon. We played bezique. 
We were deep in our game when suddenly I realized that the 
afternoon had grown late it was five thirty and there was as 
yet no sign of Gloria. I assumed that she must have slipped into 
the house without announcing herself, and that at this moment 
she was in her room. I ran upstairs to Gloria s room; however, I 
found not Gloria but Charles Zanck, the butler, opening Gloria s 
top bureau drawer. "What are you doing here?" I asked. 

"The chauffeur is downstairs, Madam," Zanck replied. "They 
have sent for Miss Gloria s clock." 

When I returned downstairs, I found Beasley standing in the 
hallway. "What have you done with Miss Gloria?" I demanded. 

Beasley shifted his eyes uneasily. "She is at Mrs. Whitney s," 
he said. "She s very sick." 

"What do you mean by taking her to Mrs. Whitney s?" I 
shouted at him. "Why didn t you bring her to her own home?" 

Beasley muttered something. I did not stop to listen to him. 
I rushed in to Consuelo. "Put on your hat and coat quickly," I 
said. "We are going to Gertrude Whitney s." 

Mrs. Whitney received us in the library. Her face seemed 
worried. "This is horrible, Gloria," she said to me. "I can t 
understand the child, but she is in hysterics. Dr. Craig is here 
looking after her now." 

"Why Dr. Craig?" I asked. Dr. Stuart Craig was an ear, nose, 
and throat specialist. Moreover, he was not Gloria s regular 
doctor; Gloria was always treated by Dr. St. Lawrence. Mrs. 
Whitney explained that she had not been able to get hold of Dr. 
St. Lawrence, that Gloria knew Dr. Craig, and that, anyway, he 
was a doctor, which for the moment was all that mattered. 

Mrs. Whitney took us to Gloria s bedroom. And as we entered, 
and Gloria caught sight of me, there was a spectacle so unex 
pected, so shocking to me and at that rime so inexplicable that 



I could do nothing but shrink back in horror. "For God s sake, 
don t let that woman come near me! " Gloria screamed, using the 
phrasing of a mature woman, "Don t let her come near, she wants 
to kiU me!" 

The doctor as well as the nurse tried to quiet her. But Gloria 
was beyond simple quieting. She threw herself on the floor, 
kicking and shrieking. Then, as if seized by a sudden inspiration, 
she got up, ran to the window, pointed toward me, and screamed, 
"If she comes near me, I ll jump." 

Suddenly, in the midst of my shock, a great sense of calm came 
over me. I saw with startling clarity that little Gloria s emotions 
had been worked on until they had surged beyond her control; 
I understood how Keislich and others had played on the child s 
fears until in Gloria s eyes I her own mother appeared as a 

We returned to the library Mrs. Whitney, Consuelo, and I. 
"I can t understand this," Mrs. Whitney said to me. "Gloria 
seemed anxious to be with you, and so pleased about going 
to the Chapin School some of her friends from the Greenville 
School were going to be with her there. She s been looking for 
ward to all this. I can t understand it." 

Dr. Craig then joined us. He explained that this was just the 
child s reaction to sudden change, and that she would soon be 
over it. "However," he added, "I would be a good idea 
if you let her stay here tonight, and came back for her to 


"Is that all right with you, Gloria?" Mrs. Whitney asked. 

The question was rhetorical. What could I do? I couldn t very 
well take away a child screaming and yelling and threatening to 
throw herself out the window. I agreed to come back the follow 
ing morning. 

The next day, at twelve, Consuelo and I went back to Mrs. 
Whitney s to get Gloria. Mrs. Whitney received us cordially. 
We sat down in the library, and the three of us had sherry. Then 


Gloria came in, holding a cute little puppy her aunt had given 
her. She put the puppy on the floor and threw her arms around 
me. "Oh, Mummy, darling," she said, "isn t the puppy beau 
tiful?" I held her tight. Last night must have been a bad dream, 
Gloria then sat on the floor and played with the puppy while 
Mrs. Whitney, Consuelo, and I chatted. Just in time, I looked at 
my watch; it was almost one o clock lunch, at home, had been 
ordered for quarter past one. I said to Mrs. Whitney, "Gertrude, 
don t you tiiink Gloria had better go and get her coat on?" 

"Oh, yes, Mummy," Gloria said, picking herself up from the 
floor. "I won t be long." 

"Be sure and wrap yourself up well, dear," Mrs. Whitney said. 

Gloria took the puppy with her and went out of the room. 
Meanwhile, Mrs. Whitney served us another glass of sherry. 
Then we waited for what seemed to be a very long time. Finally 
I turned to Mrs. Whitney and said, "Gertrude, dear, don t you 
think it would be better if you sent for Gloria? She s probably 
dawdling, and, really, lunch will be ruined." 

At this Mrs. Whitney stood up in all her grandeur. All her 
affability vanished; her features froze. "Fm very sorry, Gloria," 
she said, "but little Gloria is halfway to Westbury by now. I m 
not going to let you have her." 

In retrospect, it seems to me that little Gloria s fear of me and 
the outbursts at this time were a cumulative effect of Mamma s 
anxieties and phobias and deliberate plotting. From the time the 
child was old enough to understand any of the realities of life, it 
was drilled into her that "This is your money, Gloria, not hers. 
Don t ever let her do this ... or do that. If she says no to what 
you want, don t listen to her because she has to listen to you." 
Fears were drilled into her. Gloria was made to believe that sooner 
or later I was going to marry Prince Hohenlohe and, I am sure, that 
I would put her in a convent; she was terrified by the thought 
of being put in a convent, and Mamma pkyed on this idea, sug 
gesting that I wanted her out of the way. Every terror of the old 



fairy tales was -dredged up by Mamma to frighten Gloria: I was 
going to marry Prince Hohenlohe, the cruel stepfather, and even 
if she escaped imprisonment in a nunnery, she would find herself 
locked behind the cold, thick stone walls of a medieval castle, 
catacombed with eerie vaults and dungeons. I am certain that 
the child actually had a deadly fear of me at that time. 

From what I gathered later, this was the sequence of events 
which occurred: when Gloria left my house after lunch, the day 
she was to come and live with me, the chauffeur and nurse drove 
her around Central Park. When Gloria was finally taken to 
Mrs. Whitney s she was actually in a state of hysteria. She had 
not been the least frightened at lunch. Something must have 
happened, something so dreadful, so upsetting, that she was 
thrown into a state of shock. No matter how good an actress 
she might have been, that night there was no doubt of one fact: 
Gloria was thoroughly scared! 

I began to realize then that all this had been an act for my 
benefit a cold, sadistic act. Every detail had been planned 
cleverly, deviously, cruelly. And what was the purpose? To 
separate me from my child. It is my guess that it was the hope 
of many close to the picture that this maneuver would unfold 
smoothly, and that sooner or later events would force me to yield 
without protest to the ever mounting pressure, that I would even 
tually say to Gertrude Whitney, "You are right, Gertrude-Gloria 
is a sick, hysterical, unhappy child, and for her own good I want 
her to stay with you always." But what neither Mrs. Whitney 
nor my mother understood was how deeply I loved Gloria, and 
how convinced I was that it was they who were undermining her 
health emotionally. A neurosis can be induced; and it can be so 
carefully cultivated that it produces a permanent state of fear 
and hysteria. 

When Consuelo and I got back to my house, I called Mr. 
Burkan. He was amazed by what had happened. He immediately 
prepared to serve Mrs. Whitney with a writ of habeas corpus. 


A day later he reported to me that Mrs. Whitney had refused 
service of the writ, and that he had called Mrs. Whitney s lawyer, 
Frank L. Crocker, and announced that if Mrs. Whitney would 
not accept the papers in person he would have the summons 
plastered all over her front door. Mr. Crocker, foreseeing the 
newspaper headlines that would follow such a frontal attack, 
agreed to accept the papers for Mrs. Whitney. The papers were 
duly served. 

I had three telephones in my house; and that night each was 
kept going. I was at war, and I needed support. I called Thelma 
in London, Harry in Paris, and Prince Hohenlohe in Langenburg. 
I can never forget those dramatic moments, and the feeling of 
comfort I had when those closest to me announced without 
hesitation that they were rushing to my side. There was, for 
example, Friedel s voice: 

"Yes, Prince Hohenlohe speaking." 

"Friedel," I said, "they have taken Gloria. I feel they will not 
give her back to me. We will need you. Will you ask Margarita 
if she will consent to your coming to me?" 

There was not an instant of pause. "We will both be on the 
next boat," Friedel said. And they were. 

The maid at Thelma s house told me that Thelma was not 
at home. Where was she? She was at a ball being given at the 
Hotel Claridge by Aly Khan for his father, the Aga Khan and 
the new Begum. I called Claridge s. When my twin came to the 
phone, I told her what had happened, and I asked her if she could 
come over at once the Empress of Britain was sailing the next 

"Don t you realize," she said, "that it is already three o clock 
in the morning here? If the boat sails tomorrow from Southamp 
ton, it will leave at about eight in the morning. That will give 
me only a few hours." 



"Yes, darling, I realize it," I said, knowing well that I could 
count on Thelma for anything. "Catch that ship." 

Thelma arrived in Southampton still in her silver lame evening 
dress, but in time for the Empress. Thus, Thelma, Harry and his 
wife, Edith, Friedel and Margarita, were at my side during the 
grueling weeks that were to follow. 

A few days after this the hearings began before Judge Carew 
of the New York Supreme Court the hearings which die news 
papers and the witnesses together turned into a cause celebre. I 
have no desire at this late date to describe again the painful and 
ludicrous scenes, nor to relive the moments whose outcome had 
for me such tragic consequences. Time does not necessarily ease 
hurt; sometimes, however, it places persons and events in proper 
perspective. It also discloses subtleties which elude you when 
you are on stage, like one of Pirandello s Six Characters playing 
a role in your own tragedy. 

What now stands out in my memory is the scene of that dingy 
courtroom with its unwashed windows and its crowd of morbid 
spectators the morning Consuelo and I walked in. This was to 
be a sensational case; the public was hungry for details, the press 
was on hand ready to turn every crumb of innuendo into a tid 
bit of scandal. We had scarcely arrived when the room was 
engulfed in a wave of excitement. I turned. There was Mrs. 
Whitney entering with her daughter, Mrs. G. Macculoch Miller, 
and with her battery of lawyers, including Mr. Dunnington, Mr. 
Crocker, and Mr. Smythe. Mrs. Whitney and her daughter, 
however, did not sit with the Whitney lawyers; the counsel sat 
as an independent body, like a citizens committee dedicated to 
the promotion of civic virtue. Then my mother entered, flanked 
by Keislich, the nurse, and Maria Caillot, the maid. Maria was a 
special surprise; when last I saw her, she was in Europe, where I 
had left her when her employment with me terminated. The 
three sat together, but at a distance from Mrs. Whitney and her 


The hearing began. 

First to take the stand was the nurse. She cried, explained to 
the Court how much she loved this child, and detailed the dozens 
of ways she claimed I had neglected Gloria. The substance of 
her testimony that morning was that the houses I had lived in- 
all of them were unfit for Gloria. Some, she implied, were 
hovels. The house I had rented in the Rue Alfred Roll, in Paris, 
was "infested with rats." As her charges became more and more 
venomous, she moved to what she presented as an ultimate attack: 
the assertion that no decent person ever crossed my threshold. 

To an objective observer little that Keislich said would have 
had any claim to significance. When Mr. Burkan cross-examined 
her on the "decent person" charge, for example, there was this 
exchange quoted here from the Court record: Mr. Burkan 
reminded Keislich of a time I had a house in Biarritz, and of the 
period Consuelo was with me. 

MR. BURKAN: Mrs. Thaw was there, was she not? 

ANSWER: She calls herself Mrs. Thaw. 

MR. BURKAN: What do you mean she calls herself Mrs, 
Thaw ? Do you not know this lady is married to Benjamin Thaw, 
then Secretary to the American Embassy in London? 

ANSWER: She says she is. 

She claimed she and my mother had peeked through the door to 
my room in the Biarritz house and had seen Prince Hohenlohe 
in deshabille early in the morning. When the facts were dis 
proved by Mr. Burkan, her answer was, "We are not all liars 
we are not of your sort." As the proceeding continued, her words 
grew in virulence. Finally Judge Carew himself interrupted the 
testimony to say, "Woman woman, don t you know that God 
put teeth in your mouth to keep your tongue in?" 

Eventually, even Herbert Smythe, attorney for Mrs. Whitney, 
was compelled to concede that Keislich was an unhealthy influ 
ence. Mr. Burkan, addressing the Court, said, "I wish to establish, 
Your Honor, that from this evidence alone this nurse is a dan- 



gerous woman to be around the appellant s child. Her influence 
for ten years accounts in a great measure for the child s attitude 
toward her mother." 

Mr. Smythe immediately agreed. "We will let the nurse go," 
he said. "She will be of no help to the child." 

Judge Carew at once concurred. "Then that is settled," he 
said. "The nurse goes." 

The second witness against me was Beasley, the chauffeur. 
The substance of his early testimony was that I was presumably 
the mistress of Lawrence Copley Thaw. His contention was that 
he knew I was Larry Thaw s mistress because one night I went 
to the Thaw house, saying that I would be there only a short 
time, but actually stayed until three o clock in the morning. Sub 
sequent questioning disclosed that the occasion was a ball given 
by Larry Thaw and his wife. Beasley then tried to show that I 
was also the mistress of A. C. Blumenthal, and that he had once 
driven me to Blumie s place in Larchmont. Cross-examination 
developed the fact that this "rendezvous" was a party at which 
there was a showing of a motion picture in Blumie s projection 
room, and that Blumie, at my urging, had asked Beasley to come 
inside and see the picture, along with the rest of us. 

A. C. Blumenthal was a fascinating little manhe stood about 
five feet one; he was charming, shockingly charming. I always 
found him great fun to be with. 

The next witness was the maid, Maria Caillot. For a long while 
she disappointed the spectators who, after the earlier tidbits, 
were thirsting for blood. Maria accused me of a variety of trifling 
indiscretions, such as "drinking champagne." She supplemented 
this statement by saying that she had often seen me under the 
influence of alcohol ("tres gaie" was the way she put it), and 
that this was evident because I always smiled when drinking 

"Are you trying to imply," Mr. Burkan said, "that Mrs. Van- 
derbilt never smiles unless she is drunk? " 


"When she is drinking," Maria said blandly, "she always 

At this I could not keep a straight face. And Mr. Burkan, 
watching my expression, began an attack which was intended to 
show the absurdity of Maria s testimony. "You see Mrs. Vander- 
bilt smiling at you now," he said. "Would you call her in 

There was a general titter in the courtroom. Mr. Burkan s 
sarcasm was an acid that clearly etched the quality if not the 
motives of the witness. He then turned to the motives. He made 
Maria admit that she had been brought from Paris as a witness 
by Frank L. Crocker, and that she had been coached in his office. 
"How much money did you ask, to give this evidence? " he asked. 

Maria stiffened. "I did not ask for money." 

"But you were promised it," Mr. Burkan suggested. 

For a moment Maria hesitated. Then her answer, half-whis 
pered but definite, was given for the record. "Yes." 

By this rime it seemed to most of us that Mr. Burkan had 
brought out, beyond question, the ludicrous nature of the issues 
that had been raised to keep me from having custody of my 
child, and had obtained from Mark a clear admission of bribery. 
The hearing had become a farce. Mr. Burkan moved to bring 
quickly into sharp focus the vague, wavering lines of innuendo. 
"And so all these months," he said, looking hard at Maria, "you 
saw nothing improper in her household?" 

"No," said Maria, "I saw nothing." 

Perhaps Mr. Burkan pressed his point too far; he was so certain 
of his positionour position that he unconsciously sought em 
phasis in repetition. "Mrs. Vanderbilt always conducted herself 
in a perfectly respectacle and decent manner?" 

"Always," Maria affirmed. 

"So then," Mr. Burkan continued, probing for the repetition 
to confirm a repetition, "you never once saw evidence of im 
proper conduct?" 



Suddenly clapping her hand to her forehead as if straining to 
recover the details of some episode obscured in the fringe of the 
deep past, Maria said, "Oh, yes, I remember now something that 
once happened that was very amusant" Her word amusant was 
then translated, for the benefit of the Court, to "amusing." 

Mr. Burkan was already putting away his papers, "Oh, yes?" 
he said, looking up, "and what was that?" 

"Yes," Maria went on (and I quote from the record), "there 
was something struck me as very funny when we were at the 
Hotel Miramar in Cannes in 1929. Mrs. Vanderbilt called me one 
day and asked me to get breakfast. When I came back with 
breakfast, I saw Lady Milford-Haven and Mrs. Vanderbilt, and 
Lady Milford-Haven was kissing Mrs. Vanderbilt." 

The silence that followed this statement was like the awesome 
quiet that separates a stroke of lightning from the thunder crash 
that is to follow. Not a cough, not a murmur was to be heard in 
the entire courtroom. Then Judge Carew banged his gavel like 
a sledge hammer. "In the interest of public decency," he said, 
"the press and the public will be barred from this courtroom." 
At this point bedlam broke loose. It seemed to me that every 
one in the courtroom was shouting. And the reporters, almost in 
a body, scurried to the telephonesall set on announcing to the 
world a succulent banner headline, big-name scandal. And simul 
taneously another world my world had without warning be 
gun to crumble around me. And all of this, it seemed to me, 
without reason except for the fact that a farce had been ac 
cepted as an authentic tragedy by those in authority, and this 
acceptance had automatically cast me in a role that combined the 
most lurid characters of Lucrezia Borgia and Lady Macbeth. 

In moments of intense emotion one tends to remember, by 
some strange irony, not so much significant issues as the trivia 
those little details of experience which become symbols for the 
experience itself. At lunch that day the only food I could bring 
myself to eat was sardines. Why this preference for sardines 


I don t know; but I recall that I ate ravenously. To this day, 
because of the painful association, I can t bear the sight of a 

"Mrs. Vanderbilt," Mr. Burkan finally said to me, "is there 
any truth at all to this accusation?" 

I answered: "None whatever." 

"Very well," Mr. Burkan said grimly, "we will go back into 
that courtroom and prove that what Maria Caillot said is false. 
I simply have to cross-examine her until the facts are brought 


That afternoon Mr. Burkan fought to keep the hearings open. 
The press and the public had heard the damaging innuendos 
which had been made about me; it was now necessary that the 
press and the public hear them disproved. It was necessary that 
the world should know how false were the accusations made 
against me. But Judge Carew was adamant. He overruled all of 
Mr. Burkan s objections. The answers to these terrible and un 
founded charges could not be made public. 

That afternoon, in a courtroom containing only the judge, 
the lawyers, and the principals in the case, the hearings were 
resumed. Maria Caillot took the stand, and Judge Carew himself 
undertook the cross-examination of the witness. Unfortunately 
for me, the outcome of this testimony, which was shown to be 
unfounded, never appeared in the press; the press had already 
labeled me sensationally, and the labels were left in the mind of 
the public. 

Here is that afternoon s testimony, quoted verbatim from the 

His HONOR (to the witness) : I want you now to tell me this 
whole account. I do not want to have to ask you about it. Tell 
me what you saw. 

WITNESS: I saw Lady Milford-Haven kissing Mrs. Vanderbilt. 

His HONOR: Where was Mrs, Vanderbilt? 

WITNESS: In bed. 



His HONOR: Where was the other woman? 

WITNESS: Standing next to the bed. 

His HONOR: Where were Mrs. Vanderbilt s hands? 

WITNESS: They were holding a newspaper. She was sitting 
on a bed reading a newspaper, Mrs. Vanderbilt was. 

His HONOR: What is that you say she had a newspaper in her 


His HONOR: So we have one woman sitting on a bed reading 
a newspaper and the other woman standing beside her giving her 
a kiss. They both had on nightgowns. Is that what you said? 


His HONOR: And that is all there is to this incident? 


His HONOR: What? Speak up. 

WITNESS: That is all I saw. 

I had Mr. Burkan point out to the judge that Maria had tes 
tified earlier that Lady Milford-Haven was wearing pajamas, 
not a nightgown. I then succeeded in having the question asked: 
"What kind of pajamas?" And the answer elicited was "beach 
pajamas" an outfit which at that time was almost standard street 
apparel for most of the women in Cannes. And that was the 
story, told in secret, which branded me as a "Lesbian." (Or, as 
cautiously reported in the New York Daily Mirror, "Having 
alleged erotic interest in women.") 

It is not to the point at this time to recount or analyze all the 
tedious and painful incidents of the hearing, which stretched out 
over seven weeks. The testimony varied in details of time and 
place. Most of the facts were not true, and those that were, 
were given meanings totally unrelated to the events. But all were 
coordinated to one end: to show me to the Court and the world 
as a scheming, immoral woman. I wish to say only that the 
charges brought against me at this hearing were altogether false 
and malicious, and that their purpose, as engineered by my 


mother with the support and collaboration of Mrs. Whitney, was 
to keep me away from Gloria. 

Most vivid in my recollection of those long, trying weeks is 
the testimony of my mother. Although Mamma s face was gen 
erally heavy with make-up, she sat in court with cheeks as pale 
as white bread. Throughout the hearings she held her crucifix 
conspicuously in her hand. Her charges centered around Friedel 
Hohenlohe. "I hated him," she screamed when she was ques 
tioned; "he was trying to get my granddaughter s money. All 
that stood between her money and them was me." 

Mrs. Whitney s lawyer, Mr. Smythe, then questioned her 
softly. "Is it not so, Mrs. Morgan," he said, "that you have asked 
me to refrain from questioning you about your daughter s 
morals? " 

Mamma pressed the crucifix dramatically against her breast. 
"Yes, I did," she said hysterically. "I cannot speak of my daugh 
ter s shame. It was a Calvary on earth." 

Pressed, however, Mamma spoke of her daughter s "shame" 
with much enthusiasm, detailing the bedroom farce she claimed 
to have witnessed between Friedel and me in the villa on the 
Cote Basque a spectacle seen through a half-opened door and 
one apparently so entertaining that she, in her excitement, in 
vited Keislich to leave her own bedroom and to share it. 

Eventually even Mr. Smythe attempted to stifle her recital. 
Mamma had no desire to give up her Boccaccio role. Clutching 
her crucifix in one hand, she pulled Judge Carew s arm with the 
other. "They won t let me talk, you see," she shouted. "I have 
so much to tell so much! I can never face my Maker if I don t 
do this. And they won t let me talk." 

Nothing is to be gained, after all the years that have passed, 
to abstract the seven volumes of testimony that detailed this 
hearing. It is enough to say that the long weeks of ordeal my 
ordeal in which distortions, exaggerations, and bald lies had to 



be contested, phrase by phrase, were climaxed by the pontifical 
decision of Judge Carew. I was to be given the custody of Gloria 
every weekend, and for the entire month of July; the remaining 
days and months of the year, Gloria was to be with Mrs. Whit 
ney. The opinion of the Court, in short, was that I was an unfit 
mother most weeks between Monday and Friday; but every 
weekend my shortcomings vanished and in July I was prac 
tically perfect. We were forced to take this unreasonable deci 
sion to the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court. 
Five justices heard the appeal: Francis Martin, Edgar S. K. 
Merrell, Irwin Untermeyer, John W. McAvoy, and James 
O Malley. The unanimous decision, written by Justice Unter 
meyer, read in part as follows: "We think that the charge which 
rests upon the testimony of the maid Caillot, elicited on cross- 
examination, is so detrimental to the relator and the evidence to 
support it so unsubstantial that she was entitled to unqualified 
and complete exoneration . . ." 

The Appellate Court, however, did not change the lower 
court s order, which required my life and Gloria s to be trans 
formed into an every-weekend game of battledore and shuttle 
cock. And the justification for this stand was again that ironic 
and by now almost meaningless phrase, "For the good and wel 
fare of the child." The farcical aspect of the decision at that time 
was aptly expressed in a jingle written by the lawyer, Melville 
Cane, and published in the New York Journal American: 

Rockabye baby 

Up on a writ, 

Monday to Friday Mother s unfit. 

As the week ends she rises in virtue; 

Saturdays, Sundays, 

Mother won t hurt you. 

It is not easy, at this late date, to account for Mrs. Whitney s 
attitude toward me. Some people have maintained that she was 


jealous of me. It was said that Mrs. Whitney believed that her 
husband had been in love with me. But whether or not this was 
an assumption on Mrs. Whitney s part, it had no basis whatever 
in fact. I did not see Harry Whitney more than twenty or thirty 
times in my entire life. He was charming; he was kind and helpful 
to me, especially in the months following Reggie s death. I was 
very fond of him; he was very fond of me but so was Gertrude, 
at least so I thought. Personally, however, I believe that her 
attack on me was grounded simply on the fact that she ac 
cepted as truth the things said about me by my mother and the 
nurse. She believed, I suppose, that I was selfish and immoral and 
that I was planning to injure or neglect my child according to the 
tradition of melodrama, and hoping to take over the child s 
inheritance. Her turnabout was a stunning blow to me, because, 
up to the day she literally kidnaped Gloria and announced that 
she could never let me have her back, Mrs. Whitney had been 
my favorite sister-in-law, a woman I considered warm, worldly, 
charming, and understandingan artist and a great friend, as 
well as my sister-in-law. 

Mrs. Whitney was actually a very broad-minded woman, and 
even this is an understatement. She could not have been the 
sculptress that she was, nor moved among the people who com 
posed the art and theater world, unless she were not that I mean 
to imply that all artists are Bohemian or erotic. But there was 
nothing squeamish about Mrs. Whitney. The ordinary social 
taboos simply didn t exist in her life. Why, at the trial, she sud 
denly became "holier than thou" is an interesting psychological 
question at least if you can approach it objectively. 

Whatever patterns she chose had their own justifications; her 
life, however, was not exactly of the kind that put her in a posi 
tion to call the kettle black. It is an understatement to say that 
Mrs. Whitney was at times quite unconventional. 

How, then, can we account for Mrs. Whitney s behavior at 
the trial? I return to my first theory: I really believe that my 



mother, prompted by her strange compulsions and pathological 
fears, with the collaboration of the nurse, had actually convinced 
her that the acts I was accused of did occur, and that Gloria was 
made to suffer because of them. Even if my supposed "immoral 
ity" had been a matter of fact, she would not have raised an 
eyebrow at the events themselves. I am sure it was her credence 
of Mamma s insinuations that I intended to harm Gloria that 
moved her to act. 

But once Mrs. Whitney found herself in court, other factors 
entered the case. She found herself riding on a tiger s back; and 
as a stubborn, strong egotist, she determined to ride the tiger, 
whatever the cost After the third day of the trial and this I 
learned from Frank Crocker who, years later, became my friend 
Mrs. Whitney wanted to stop the trial; things were not going 
as smoothly as she had planned. But Gilchrist, Dunnington, my 
mother, and the nurse convinced her that she was already too 
deep in the case to back out. No matter how the witnesses fluttered, 
no matter how unreliable they proved to be, it was necessary for 
the sake of face to continue with the trial. And how trustworthy 
could these witnesses be? Who and what were they? the nurse, 
the maid, my mother; the butler, and the chauff eur, both engaged 
through Mr. Gilchrist. Their word had to stand against the testi 
mony of Thelma, of Consuelo, of Harry, of Larry Thaw, and 
of Prince and Princess Hohenlohe, who had crossed the Atlantic 
just to help me. These were obviously sane, responsible people; 
and Mrs. Whitney knew it. She realized what she had let herself 
in for, and that the testimony of prejudiced or bought servants 
had to be matched against that of people who moved in her own 
world and had no ax to grind. 

I believe that this is why Mrs. Whitney, when she took the 
stand, said nothing whatever against me. On the contrary, she 
declared that I was a "charming" woman, that she had never 
known me, in speech or action, to do anything which was not 
the soul of propriety I was just the paragon of American 


womanhood. Her mother "adored" me. This court action was 
not directed against me; it was taken merely "for the good and 
interests of the child." That phrase, I am sure, will be spelled 
out in neon lights on my grave. 

I definitely claim that the nurse, the maid, and my mother 
were paid. Proof, naturally, I have not got. The only thing I do 
know beyond question is that until the day she died Mrs. Whit 
ney supported the nurse. She also supported my mother. Oddly 
enough, all the money Mrs. Whitney and Gloria together gave 
my mother Mamma put away, and this was the $100,000 she left 
Gloria in her will. One of the many odd things about my mother 
I can never understand is why she took this money at all. She 
didn t need it; it was only put away in order to be returned. 



Royal Romance 


Gloria s ordeal was the last thing I could have imagined as even 
remotely possible in those exciting days after my memorable first 
evening with the Prince of Wales. I dined and danced with him 
several rimes. And I found in him what at that time I most wanted 
and needed. Not only was he fascinating to me in terms of his 
own personality, but he was the perfect compensation for my 
emotional hurt. He was the antithesis to Duke; he was an anti 
dote for Duke. Duke was rugged, blustering, carelessly self- 
indulgent; the Prince was shy, gracious, meticulously considerate. 

I was still at this time living as Duke s wife in our town house, 
but I considered my life my own. I was living according to 
Duke s code the single standard that I had, as a bride, found so 
difficult to understand. 

The Prince and I spent a number of evenings dining and danc 
ing in the fashionable London night clubs. Naturally, when we 
were seen together, eyebrows were raised and tongues began to 

We talked a great deal, but mostly about trivialities. The 
Prince was not a man for abstract ideas or ponderous thought; 
nor was he interested to any extent in the theater, books, or art. 
Our talk was mostly about people we knew or had known, and 
about places we knew and liked. And this was enough. There 
was a special rapport that seemed to exist between us, and this 


rapport was intuitive; we did not have to build it slowly through 
a discovery together of complex issues. This is not to say that 
the Prince is not complex; he is an extraordinarily complicated 
personality, but it is to say that his outward manner is simple 
and direct, and that it is easy to be with him and have an imme 
diate liking for him, without going beyond the surface. 

Long before my first dinner with the Prince, Duke and I had 
planned a safari in Africa. And by a coincidence, the Prince was 
to be in Nairobi, not far from us, at the time our safari was 
scheduled. I was not happy at the prospect of the protracted trip 
with Duke, or being separated a long time from die Prince; but 
Duke and I were still keeping up the appearances that society 
required and I consoled myself with the thought that the Prince 
would be there, too. 

During this period, moreover, I was not always alone with the 
Prince. Duke took our friendship in stride in the sophisticated 
Englishman s stride. My going out with the Prince was in no 
way extraordinary, and often Duke would join us we would be 
seen together as a party of six or eight at the Embassy, the Kit 
Kat, or whatever other night spot we chose. At other times Duke 
and I would give parties at our house, and the Prince would be 
one of the guests. 

Just before I left for Africa on my first safari, the Prince gave 
me a little St. Christopher s medal that he had always worn 
around his neck on a gold chain. His mother had given him the 
medal, and the Prince said it would protect me on my trip. I was 
deeply touched by this simple gift I had it attached to a little 
diamond pin, and I carry it always with me. 

Our East African port of call was damp, enervating, steaming 
Mombasa. A dispatch bag full of mail was handed Duke. He 
went through it casually. "Here are some letters for you, 
Thelma." I recognized the Prince s handwriting. I m sure Duke 
did, too, but he made no comment. I was delighted to learn, 



from one of the Prince s letters, that we would have a chance to 
see each other in Nairobi. 

As we left Mombasa for Nairobi, hot though it was, I was in 
high spirits; and I was fascinated by all that I saw. From the train 
window I had my first glimpse of big gameat least the first out 
side a zoo. Herds of giraffes galloped across the open ground. I 
saw zebras, kongonis, and other animals whose names I did not 
as yet know. 

Nairobi, unlike Mombasa, was cool and dry, a divine oasis 
after the long, hot, trying trip. Duke had seen to it that our safari 
was the last word in comfort and luxury. When we were settled 
in our first camp, I must say that the setup was very impressive. 
Our tents, and those of the white hunters, Von Blixer, and Dick- 
enson, were of green canvas and about the size of a small cabin 
on a ship. Behind these was a smaller tent that was used as a 
bathroom; the tubs were of canvas and, when not in use, were 
rolled up. The dining tent was made of netting; it was large 
enough to hold fourteen of us at a time. I was amazed at the 
quality of the meals served us in such a primitive setting. 

The first night I slept in camp I was scared to death. Under 
my mosquito net, in the pitch darkness, I heard the growling of 
lions in the distance; to me the roars seemed to come from a 
place just outside my tent and at any moment, I believed, the 
lions would pounce on me. Why, I asked myself, did I have to be 
the big white hunter? Why couldn t I have stayed where I 
belonged safe and sound in London? Once a wild animal ac 
tually did find his way into my tent. I woke with a start to see 
two shining eyes fixed on me. Was it a lion or a leopard? I didn t 
dare turn on my flashlight to find out. Finally, when I could 
stand the suspense no longer, I put on my light and fixed the 
beam on the creature, ready to scream my head off. There was 
a hyena, one of my shoes in its mouth, glaring back at me. By 
that time I was too petrified even to scream. Fortunately, the 
hyena bolted. It was only later that I learned that hyenas do not 


attack peoplelive people, anyway. Hyenas, I was told, are 

We plunged deep into the jungle. I shot an elephant, a lion, 
a rhino, and a water buffalo. I was surprised, not excited, when 
I shot the elephant. We were pushing through very tall grass. 
I walked ahead. All of a sudden a big bull stampeded in front of 
me, less than fifty yards away. When an elephant stampedes, ears 
out, trunk up, you think a house is falling on you. I raised my 
gun and fired; it kicked. I sat down, kerplunk, like a little child 
landing on its bottom. But I got the elephant. 

On our way back to Nairobi a courier brought an invitation 
from the Governor, to be his guests at a special event. The Prince 
had arrived. I guessed that Duke must have surmised it, too, for 
he turned down the invitation, giving as an excuse that he had 
to stay in Nairobi for the disbanding of our safari, and I, in my 
excitement at the thought of seeing the Prince again, did not 
question his decision. 

Natives were not allowed to spear lions unless given special 
permission by the government. But now, in honor of the Prince, 
two tribes were to compete with each other in a special lion hunt. 
The starting point of this safari was Government House in 
Nairobi, where the Prince had been staying. On the second day 
out a runner rushed into camp and said that he had sighted a lion. 

The Governor and his guests perched themselves on a hilltop 
to watch the kill. But the Prince was not so passive. Camera in 
hand, he rushed out into the fray. Excitedly I took moving pic 
tures of the Prince running all over the place, taking his own 
moving pictures. When the tribes closed in on the lion I got a 
wonderful, though rather harrowing, shot of a native boy being 
clawed by one of the lions. It was at that moment that another 
native boy raced up to the victim, spear poised, and destroyed the 
lion. In spite of my horror at the accident and the shaking of 
my hands, I kept my Bell & Howell trained on the scene and 



ended the day with a remarkably good sequence. I am sorry that 
I lost these films in one of the blitz raids on London. 

The Prince s safari was large; there were about forty of us, 
including the Governor and his wife, and the native guides and 
servants. No convenience for our comfort that could be trans 
ported and fitted into our nomadic life was overlooked: portable 
bath tubs, dining tables, wine coolers, and the finest mosquito- 
proofed tents. We even had a little Puss Moth Airplane to scout 
for lions, and each day began with the Prince buzzing my tent 
to wake me up before soaring off over the bush in search of game. 

But fascinating as were the hunting, the natives, and the coun 
try, I was always glad when the Governor gave the signal to 
make camp, and the Prince returned from the hunt. The tents 
were always pitched at intervals of ten or twelve yards in a rough 
semicircle around a great central fire that was kept burning all 
night. In addition, there were smaller fires in front of every two or 
three tents to discourage animals that might have sneaked through 
the native camp in the rear of our line of tents or skirted the 
main blaze. The Prince s tent was always on one end of the line 
and mine next to his, and we shared a fire. After dinner was over 
our party soon broke up, each going to his own tent or gathering 
in small groups for a final pipe or nightcap. Early retiring and 
rising are the custom on safari. 

* But not for the Prince and me. This was our enchanted time to 
be together. As we sat by our own fire, now little more than 
glowing embers, the tropic African night would come closer 
and closer. It is hard to convey the quality of those nights. The 
stars seemed close enough to touch; the murmurous background 
sounds of innumerable insects were punctuated with the sudden 
hideous laughter of the hyena or the stealthy footfalls of larger 
animals moving through the underbrush. From rime to time the 
eyes of "bushbabies," tiny furry animals gleamed from the 
edge of the bush like little headlights. And the air was like a 
caress, silken soft. No one could remain insensitive to the vast- 


ness of the starry sky, the teeming, fecund sense of nature at its 
most prodigal As the Prince and I would feel enveloped in all 
this, we would instinctively draw closer as if we were the only two 
people on Earth; our companions became as unreal, as remote 
from us, as the insubstantial shadows along the jungle s edge. 
This was our Eden, and we were alone in it. His arms about me 
were the only reality; his words of love my only bridge to life. 
Borne along on the mounting tide of his ardor, I felt myself being 
inexorably swept from the accustomed moorings of caution. 
Each night I felt more completely possessed by our love, carried 
ever more swiftly into uncharted seas of feeling, content to let 
the Prince chart the course, heedless of where the voyage would 

But this enchanted time could not last. The Prince s itinerary 
was rigid, so many days for this, so many days for that. And 
Duke had arranged to retrieve me at the appointed time, and he 
was not less a slave to plans and timetables than the Prince. So it 
was that on the seventh day the Governor s safari came to an 
end. We were to proceed to the nearest town on the railroad, a 
tiny hamlet called Voi. There the Prince s private train would 
be waiting to carry him to the Belgian Congo and Duke to take 
me to Mombasa on the first leg of our journey back to England, 

On the last day I was prepared for the briefest of farewells, 
assuming the Prince would proceed ahead to Voi while I fol 
lowed with the others. Knowing that he detested scenes and 
sentimentality, I was determined that I would be gay and casual 
even if it killed me. Feeling much as Eve did on being faced with 
leaving her garden, I steeled myself to put on a good show as I 
saw him approaching, but I must confess I was hurt when I saw 
him coming toward me with even more bounce to his stride than 
usual, an even broader smile on his face. He didn t have to look 
that happy at leaving me, did he? But how wrong I was. He had 
arranged a delightful surprise. Brushing aside the alarmed protest 
of the Governor and the remonstrances of his equerry, he had 



arranged to drive me in an open car all by himself the forty or 
so miles across the trackless country between our camp and the 
railroad. Thus he had given us one more day to be together, one 
more day to be alone. 

We started off in high spirits, looking on our expedition as 
quite a lark. And so it was for the first several hours. We met a 
rhinoceros with her "toto," as the cubs are called in Africa. We 
obtained some good movies, and after resting a while and having 
lunch we resumed the journey. I noticed that the Prince seemed 
very flushed, but I attributed that to the excitement over the 
rhinoceros and to the heat. But there was also something differ 
ent in his manner. Gone were the gay badinage, the loving 
glances. He drove in silence, staring fixedly ahead. Finally he 
said: "Darling, I ve got to stop for a bit; I feel frightfully seedy." 
When we stopped he slumped over the wheel, his eyes closed, 
his breath coming in short shallow gasps. My concern rapidly 
turned into near panic. What was I to do if he fainted? Nothing 
in my life had prepared me for such a crisis. I had no idea of 
what was wrong with him or what to do for him. I had learned 
to drive, haltingly, an old Marmon I had briefly possessed in 
California. But at best I could only manage the briefest of excur 
sions along the then uncrowded boulevards of Beverly Hills 
and that was a long time ago. Here I was in an utterly unfamiliar 
vehicle about whose workings I knew nothing except that they 
seemed quite different from those of an American car. And I had 
only the vaguest idea in which direction the railroad lay. While 
the country was fairly open, one had continually to steer around 
clumps of bushes and tremendous ant hills. Could I maintain a 
sense of direction under these conditions? Worst of all was the 
ever-present danger of not spotting the frequent hyena burrows 
that disclosed their presence only by a slight lift of the ground 
forming their thin roofs. A wheel in one of these would be the 
end of the trip. I could never get the car out by myself. Above 
all I wanted to save the man I loved. I knew our failure to turn 


up at Voi would touch off a gigantic search operation and that 
we should eventually be found but would it be in time? Then 
there was my responsibility to the Empirehere was my future 
king, the heir to the throne. If anything should happen to him 
through my stupidity in handling the car how could I ever for 
give myself? 

I finally decided that thinking about all that could happen was 
only making things worse. I had no choice but to put my shoul 
der, or rather my hands, to the wheel and take my chances. As 
I started to move the Prince away from the driver s seat, he 
rallied; his eyes came open, he shook his head and it seemed to 
clear, "Please don t look so upset, darling it s just the heat; I 
feel fine now. We ll go on now, shall we?" he said and started 
the motor. Somehow he managed to keep the car going and to 
dodge the burrows. Finally I saw a faint smudge of white on the 
horizon and then a black dot at the end of it. The white railroad 
cars of the Prince s train and the black engine were at the siding. 
He increased the speed and in fifteen minutes we pulled up along 
side the first car. To my relief I saw Dr. Breckenridge, the 
Prince s physician, standing on the platform; I beckoned to him 
and in a moment he was with us. "I feel terribly ill, Doctor," the 
Prince said quietly. But even then he was unwilling to give up; he 
led us through the first car, past bedroom and dining room, to the 
lounge. He refused to let the doctor take his temperature. That 
could be done after I left. But I insisted Dr. Breckenridge take it. 
I was horrified it was 105. 

Then came a frightening ordeal: waiting for my train to come, 
knowing that I was on my way back to England, knowing that 
the Prince was ill terribly ill and that I was leaving him in the 
middle of Africa. Duke and I were not getting along, and there 
would be the voyage home together in emotional fog, while all 
that mattered to me was lying here in a strange place, at die edge 
of the bush. Yet civilized behavior requires sometimes that we 
hide our deepest feelings and pretend that life is a ballet danced 



by puppets whose gestures are made by strings, and whose 
words, projected from distant places, are always the proper 
words, although voiced by others. 

Duke s train finally arrived and stopped on the siding. Duke 
joined us and had a drink with the Prince. Duke and I then got 
on the train and went down to Mombasa. 

On the ship, a few days later, I had a cable from the Prince 
saying that his illness had been diagnosed it was malaria and 
that he had been taken back to Government House, at Nairobi, 
and that as soon as he was well enough he was going off on an 
elephant safari. When I reached London I received a letter filling 
me in on the details and saying all those things a woman in love 
wants to hear. He hadn t forgotten our time in Eden. 

In rime, the Prince and I began to spend long weekends at Fort 
Belvedere, the one place the Prince really considered his own; 
he was himself there, free from any obligation to maintain the 
formalities of his official position. He puttered in the garden, 
pruned his trees, blew on his bagpipes. We entertained a great 
deal, but our guests were always the people we liked to have 
around there were no dignitaries, no representatives of state 
and empire. Our life was quiet, even domestic. It was in fact so 
tranquil, so uncluttered by complications, that in retrospect there 
seems very little to say about it. But I did learn that the outward 
shyness of the Prince masked a whim of iron. I was sublimely 
happy; the comfortable simplicity was all that I wanted, and I 
was pleased that we were spared the Sturm und Drang that is the 
traditional background of a love such as ours. Politics were never 
discussed; political figures never intruded into our private world. 
I was in love with a man, a shy, sensitive, charming man. That he 
happened also to be the Prince of Wales, and that he was destined 
one day to be king, were facts only incidental to my feelings; 
they were elements of history, not love. I certainly had no desire 
ever to be queen such an idea never occurred to either of us. 


Our quiet routine may seem unbelievable to readers who ex 
pect all royal romances to follow the dramatic patterns of 
Mayer ling. There were times, in fact, when my role at the Fort 
would have appeared to an outsider to be extremely placid. 

One day, wandering through the National Gallery, I noticed 
two flower paintings by the Dutch painter Van Heusen, and it 
occurred to me that done in petit point they would be lovely 
subjects for fire screens. I decided to make one for the Prince, 
the other for myself. (Mine I still have; I wonder what happened 
to the other one? ) The picture I chose for the Prince s screen 
was of a vase of flowers at the base of which were two large 
bunches of grapes, one green, the other purple. It took me a good 
year and a half to complete the piece; in one of the flowers alone 
I later counted seventy-three shades of yarn I had used. And 
almost all of this work was done at the Fort. The Prince seemed 
fascinated by the technique which was involved. One day, 
watching me, he said, "That looks like fun. Do you think I 
could doit?" 

I was delighted to think that he wanted to share my interest 
"Fm sure you could," I said. "Why don t you try?" 

We decided that his first project should be a paperweight for 
his mother, Queen Mary. The idea was ambitious for a beginner; 
the subject was the royal crown, which required all the colors of 
the fabulous Crown Jewels. Below the crown were to be the 
royal initials, M.R., in gold. The Prince worked hard at this; 
and when it was finished, mounted on its silver base, I must say 
it was beautiful. The Prince then made me a petit-point back 
gammon table cover. The background of the board was beige; 
the points were in the Guards colors, red and blue. During the 
war my house in London was bombed and I lost most of my 
things. Fortunately, this table was saved; it had for me many 
happy memories. I would have hated to lose it 

There were weekends at the Fort when my father came to 
stay with us. Papa was always fond of reading aloud. And if a 



visitor had come upon us on any of these occasions he would 
have witnessed an unexpected and old-fashioned scene of bour 
geois bliss: the Prince and I busy with our needlework, and Papa 
sonorously reading to us from a novel by Scott or Dickens once 
even from The Wild Party, a then-popular book whose title was 
ironically at odds with this setting. 

One night we had as a house guest my old friend and also the 
Prince s friend Gav. Our needlework and readings went on as 
usual Gav in time became bored with needlework as a spectator 
sport, and bored as well, perhaps, with Papa s literary renditions, 
he decided to go to bed. On his way to his bedroom he walked 
through the Fort s well-lighted halls. Being Scotch, he naturally 
was appalled by the waste of electricity. Conscientiously he 
flicked every switch that he could find. Suddenly there was a 
clanging loud enough to be heard a mile away. Sirens screamed. 
It turned out that Gav, in his economy drive, had flicked not 
only light switches, but the fire alarm. Pandemonium broke loose. 
How we laughed! 

During the months after his return to England, the Prince and 
I saw each other constantly; our relation was no longer a flirta 
tion, but one based on deep-rooted affection. There was then 
no longer any thought of Duke s joining us; Duke went his way, 
and I went mine. I spent most weekends at the Fort. At other 
times the Prince and I would go together to various parties, or 
dine quietly alone at York House or my house. We also attended 
together the numerous charity balls. 

The Prince s love for Viennese waltzes set the fashion. The 
outstanding charity event of 1931 was the Strauss Ball at the 
Savoy. Four couples in costume danced to the "Blue Danube" 
conducted by the composer himself, Johann Strauss! I was one 
of the dancers. My gown, a changeable almond-green-and-black 
taffetta, had a tight bodice and billowing bustles. I wore a bright 
red wig, as red as Elinor Glyn s hair, ornamented by diamond 
stars lent me by Cartier. This jeweler also lent me the most exotic 


earrings, a dangling cluster of diamond grapes. The night before 
the ball we all rehearsed in costume. My partner and I were 
whirling around when suddenly, without the slightest indication 
of having felt ill, the chief of Scotland Yard, who was standing 
near us, dropped to the floor foaming at the mouth. Before the 
hotel physician could get to him, he was dead; he had had an 
epileptic stroke, we were told. We were all so shocked that we 
wanted to call off the ball, but because the event was for charity 
and had been a sellout the committee decided to go on with 
the festivities. 

The Prince could not come to this ball; that night he had to 
attend Court. I was to join him later at the Fort. And when the 
dancing ended, I decided that instead of going home to change 
I would drive out as I was, in costume. I wanted him to see me 
in all my finery. 

I paid for my vanity. Neither the period gown with its stays 
and full skirt nor my towering red wig was designed for a low- 
slung car. All the way to the Fort I had to keep myself propped 
at an angle between the floor and the roof; it was not possible 
either to sit up or lie down. What a foolish idea this was! But I 
was so very young. And the admiration in the Prince s eyes, 
when he finally saw me, made me feel that my dramatic gesture 
was not such a silly one after all. 

That summer Orman and Betty Lawson-Johnston and I rented 
a house in front of the famous Cheberta golf course in Biarritz, 
Our house guests that season were the Princ6 of Wales, Prince 
George, and their entourage. 

Biarritz is not a great distance from the famous Shrine of 
Lourdes, which I had never visited. I told the Prince I was 
anxious to see it. 

"Why don t you use my plane? " he said. "You can make it in a 
day that way." I thought this a wonderful idea. The morning 
I was to go the Prince decided he would go with me. We stopped 
at Pau to have lunch with Lady Leveson-Gower, and then 



motored to the Grotto. The service was impressive. Hundreds 
of poor, sick, crippled people had come hoping for a cure. As 
the service progressed, the Prince turned to me and said, "I 
don t know what to do." I smiled at him and said, "Do just as 
I do. Remember, I m a Catholic." 

Halfway through the ceremony it started to drizzle. As the 
priest came by with the Blessed Sacrament, we all knelt, die 
Prince with the others. 

The Prince was recognized by the people who had charge of 
the management of Lourdes, and they asked him if he would like 
to be shown around. He said that he would. 

The last place they took us to was a one-room house, lined 
with pictures of people who had been cured at the Shrine. As 
we opened the door to leave we found ourselves surrounded by 
hundreds of people. Some had heard that the Prince of Wales 
was there; some thought a miracle had taken place. Lady Leve- 
son-Gower, an elderly lady, turned pale at the sight of such an 
enormous crowd. A little girl threw herself at her feet, kissed 
the hem of her skirt, and said, "A miracle!" 

"No, no," poor Lady Leveson-Gower said, "Pm not a miracle, 
please let me by." 

A few days after we returned to London the Prince called me 
and asked me to come to York House at once. It was important. 
When I arrived he was surrounded by letters. On the desk, on 
the floor everywhere there were letters. "Just pick one up at 
random," he said. 

"Who is this Lady Furness? " This was the greeting of the first 
letter I opened. "How dare she let our Prince of Wales kneel in 
the mud at a Catholic ceremony? What is this country coming 
to? What is behind all this?" I was furious. What did they mean, 
kneel in the mud! A little drizzle never hurt anybody, not even 
a future King of England, and a prayer for poor sick people, I 
thought, would hurt a man much less, no matter what religion 
he professed. 


"Sir," I said, "in your country, at the end of every perform 
ance at the theater, moving pictures, night clubs, they play God 
Save the King. Everybody gets up foreigners as well as Eng 
lishmennot because they swear allegiance to the King of Eng 
land, but because of respect for the customs of the country they 
are in. And that s all that you did." I was really angry. 

"That s right, darling," he said. "That s my answer. Thanks." 
I never heard any more about it. Nor did I tell the Prince about 
the many letters I got from Catholics all over England asking me 
to keep up the "good work." I m afraid they got the same answer. 

Much has been written in many books about the famous meet 
ing of the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson, yet none of the 
accounts I have read is true to fact. Not even the Prince s version 
in his own book, A King s Story, is accurate. Perhaps one should 
understand and forgive his lapse of memory; the meeting was 
uneventful, and it took place a long time ago. But the claim to 
the dubious honor of introducing the two to each other is mine; 
and in the historical events that followed I was an unwitting 
catalytic agent. 

In the latter part of 1930, or early in 1931, when I was living 
at 2 1 Grosvenor Square, Consuelo telephoned one afternoon and 
asked if she could bring a friend for cocktails. 

The friend, she explained, was a young American woman 
married to an Englishman, Ernest Simpson. "Mrs. Simpson is 
fun," Consuelo said. "You will like her." And when she and 
Consuelo arrived later in the afternoon, I found that Consuelo 
was right; Wallis Simpson was "fun," and I did like her. At that 
time she did not have the chic she has since cultivated. She was 
not beautiful; in fact, she was not even pretty. But she had a 
distinct charm and a sharp sense of humor. Her dark hair was 
parted in the middle. Her eyes, alert and eloquent, were her best 
feature. She was not as thin then as in later years not that she 
could be called fat even then; she was merely less angular. Her 
hands were large; they did not move gracefully, and I thought 



she used them too much when she attempted to emphasize a point. 

We talked casually about mutual friends in America and about 
the London season. I asked her the usual questions about her 
reactions to England. Later, Gloria arrived, bringing a few 
friends with her, and our gathering turned into an impromptu 
party. Eventually the butler came up to me to announce that the 
Prince had just arrived. I went to the door. 

"Oh, a party!" the Prince said, not too happily, as I greeted 

"No, darling, just a few friends," I said. "You know most of 
them. Consuelo, by the way, brought a friend of hers, a Mrs. 
Simpson." Then, repeating Consuelo s description, I added, "She 
seems to be fun." 

We went up to the drawing room. The Prince immediately 
began a conversation with old friends. I went over to Wallis, 
took her to the Prince, and introduced her. 

This meeting has been the subject of an enormous amount of 
fiction. It has been written, for example, that the Prince, on being 
introduced to Wallis, asked her if, in England, she did not miss 
the comforts of central heating, and that she had answered, "Fm 
sorry, sir, but you have disappointed me. Every American 
woman who comes to your country is always asked the same 
question. I had hoped for something more original from the 
Prince of Wales." 

Had this been true, it would have been not only bad taste but 
bad manners. At that moment Wallis Simpson was as nervous 
and as impressed as any woman would have been on first meet 
ing the Prince of Wales. 

Another apocryphal story is that when the Prince first met 
Wallis an electric tension was set up between them, and he then 
and there decided he could not live without her. This is utter 
nonsense. Wallis and I became great friends; actually I came to 
regard her as one of my best friends in England, and the Prince 
and I often would include Wallis and her husband in our parties, 


The Prince, consequently, saw her at least once a week for the 
next three and a half years. It was only after this that he dis 
covered she was more important to him than the throne. 

Early in June 1931 Wallis Simpson was to be presented at 
Court. We were then warm friends; I shared in her excitement 
and helped dress her for the occasion. She wore a large cross of 
aquamarines that I believe she had bought in China when she was 
married to Spencer. I lent her the same train and feathers I had 
worn when I was presented. She could not wear my dress, how 
ever, because she is not my size; I am taller. 

In some odd way word got around about my association with 
the train and feathers. At the time of the abdication in 1936, 
Gloria and I had a dress shop on Fifty-sixth Street, between 
Madison and Fifth, in New York. One day a short, pudgy man 
came into the place and asked to see me. I was out at the time; 
Gloria saw him for me. 

"Well, Mrs. Vanderbilt," he said as he lumbered into the office, 
"it s this way. We are told that Lady Furness has the train that 
Wally wore at the Coronation. We want to buy it." 

Gloria looked at him icily. "I was not aware," she said, "that 
Mrs. Simpson ever attended a coronation. You must mean 
presentation. " 

The visitor stood corrected. "Whatever it was," he said, "w$ 
want to buy the outfit." 

"What makes you think it s for sale?" Gloria asked. 

"Well," the visitor continued, "it s big money I m offering the 

Gloria looked at him in amazement. "I m sorry," she said. "I m 
sure Lady Furness has no intention of selling it. But I am curious, 
just the same. Why should you want to buy it? Surely you don t 
expect to be presented." 

"Well, Mrs. Vanderbilt, it s this way," he said. "We have 
bought the house that Wally was born in, in Baltimore, you 



know. We re turning it into a museum. We have life-size wax 
figures, beautiful wax figures, Mrs. Vanderbilt the King and 
Queen Mary are seated on their thrones. In front of them is the 
figure of Wally. She is making a deep curtsy to them. That s 
why we want the train. You see, we want everything authentic; 
everything just as it was." 

"I m sorry," Gloria said, smiling. "I understand your interest, 
but you re wasting your time and mine. The train is not for sale." 

The man shuffled sadly to the office door, then, turning, said 
in a pathetic voice, "Please, Mrs. Vanderbilt, think how the 
shrine is going to suffer." 

That was too much for Gloria. "Shrine? Shrine, indeed!" she 
shouted. "Now, look here. I m a very religious woman. I only 
put God and His saints in shrines, and believe me, Mrs. Simpson 
is neither. Good afternoon!" The man bolted out of the office. 

The Prince had an unpredictable and somewhat eclectic inter 
est in both business and economy. 

On one of my visits to my family in America I had met Mr. 
Klein, the owner of the fabulous store on Fourteenth Street in 
New York, and he seemed surprised that I had never visited his 
store, which is a New York institution. He explained to me that 
there was no other store quite like this in America or the world. 
"We actually sell dresses," he said, "for as little as $2.98." 

I was curious to see this "Klein s on the Square," and when 
Mr. Klein offered to show me through the store, I had taken 
advantage of his invitation. The store, as Mr. Klein stated, is 
unique. There were no salesladies. Customers went to the racks, 
selected their own items, took them to cubby-hole dressing 
rooms, and made their selections without supervision. And the 
prices were unbelievably low. 

As I had been about to leave, Mr. Klein had said to me, "Won t 
you please accept some little remembrance of your visit here? 
Pick out anything you like." 


I smiled and thanked him, and chose a black-and-white check 
ered wool suit, consisting of a skirt and a three-quarter-length 
coat. The suit was a little loud; you could see it for miles. The 
material was quite fine, however; the suit was one of Klein s more 
expensive items, selling for around nineteen dollars. 

When I returned to London, I told the Prince about my visit 
to the store. The Prince seemed fascinated. "I should very much 
like to see your suit," he said. "Have you still got it?" 

This sudden interest surprised me. I had told him about Klein s, 
thinking that the store would interest him; it did not follow that 
the suit would concern him. To a man, you would assume, one 
woman s suit was very much like another. 

The next weekend I brought the suit to the Fort. The Prince 
examined it carefully. Then, to my amazement, he asked, "May 
I keep it?" 

"Of course, darling," I answered. Nevertheless, I was puzzled. 
"What in the world are you going to do with it?" I asked him. 

The Prince did not bat an eye. He spoke as if his idea was 
totally commonplace. "I am going to have some plus fours made 
out of it," he said. And he did. 

Perhaps the most striking innovation I introduced into the 
Prince s way of life concerned the keeping of Christmas. It had 
been his custom to give presents to the members of his staff at 
the Fort and at York House. But I felt there was something lack 
ing, something rather perfunctory and impersonal, in the way 
it was done. The selection of presents, too, was, to say the least, 
unimaginative: an autographed picture, perhaps, for a senior 
servitor, cuff links for footmen and chauffeurs, money for the 
rest, and nothing at all for the wives and children! This I deter 
mined to change. I went to the Prince and offered to get some 
thing personal for each and every one of the staff and families, 
and not to exceed the expense of previous years. The Prince 
admitted he had not been too happy with the old system but had 



not been able to think of anything better. He enthusiastically fell 
in with my scheme, and we agreed to make a real occasion of the 
presentation and have a party for the group from both establish 

I soon realized I had got myself in for something. A quick 
tally showed I had committed myself to making some hundred 
individual purchases and on a budget that impressed me as being 
scarcely princely. I kept a record of each year s purchases (a 
sheet of which is reproduced elsewhere here). For weeks I 
haunted the department stores and shops of all kinds seeking out 
the best buys, always being careful to avoid duplicating the same 
thing for the same person from one year to the next. 

One day in 1932 while I was so engaged I found myself in 
Harrod s. I looked at my watch and suddenly realized I was 
already fifteen minutes late for an engagement I had to meet the 
Prince at York House for cocktails. Now if there is anything the 
Prince hates it is to be kept waiting, and I knew I was in for some 
stormy weather. As I dashed toward the door I passed a bargain 
table piled high with tiny little teddy bears in green and pink. 
They were two for a shilling. They were so absurd the thought 
flashed through my mind I might make a joke out of offering a 
pair of them as a peace offering. A two-shilling piece happened to 
be uppermost in my purse, and I popped it into the hand of the 
nearest salesclerk, scooped up four bears, and fled. On the 
drive to St. James s I wished I had something more impressive 
for my peace offering but there was no help for it. When I was 
ushered into his presence, the marks of his irritation were all too 
plain. I quickly held out the little creatures and said they would 
speak for me. A smile slowly dissolved the storm clouds from his 
face; then he chuckled. "I will take a pink one and a green one, 
and you the same. Whenever we go on a trip away from each 
other Fll give you my green one and you give me your pink one, 
and thus we ll always have something of each other." And the 
exchange of the bears became a ritual of each departure; and in 


his letters from abroad he rarely failed to say, "My bears send 
their love to your bears." Faded now almost to a neutral gray 
but with traces of pink and green still showing, I still have my 
bears. I wonder if he has his. 

The two or three weekends before Christmas at the Fort were 
package-wrapping time. After dinner each evening all the guests 
became an informal task force. Shears, paper, ribbon, string were 
issued to each and the production line started rolling. On the first 
of these occasions the Prince got down on the floor with his 
paper and ribbon and manfully struggled through three or four 
parcels. The results were hardly reassuring: the corners sagged 
ominously and the ribbons apparently were tied with some sort 
of knot he had learned to use in securing hawsers during his 
naval days. I tactfully suggested he could be of the greatest help 
if he would cut the paper for the rest of us, and this became his 
special task from then on. I can still see the group sprawled on 
the floor: Prince George flourishing rolls of ribbon but mostly 
kibitzing Molly Dalkeith, who could tie rings around him; Wallis 
Simpson keeping up an animated chatter from one corner, while 
Ernest stolidly ground out package after package with astonish 
ing skill and artistry. What a boon Scotch tape would have been! 

I also suggested to the Prince that I couldn t feel Christmas was 
Christmas without a tree. He was delighted at this and remarked, 
"Why didn t I think of this years ago?" Of course it ended up 
with my having to procure the tree, a big ten- or twelve-footer, 
nearly unobtainable in the London of those days, and I had to 
scour the city to find one. Then to Selfridge s for ornaments; 
being American in origin they always had the best assortment 
Finally, a few days before Christmas, we would have a dinner 
party at York House and afterward all the guests would trim the 
tree and place the presents about its base in the corner of the big 
Reception Room opposite the great folding doors. As the grand 
finale the Prince would mount a ladder and place a tremendous 
star on the top. 



The presentation itself was impressive. The Prince stood be 
side the tree and then the great doors were thrown open and in 
order of seniority the whole staff flocked in. As their names were 
qalled each stepped forward to receive his or her present, the 
men bowing stiffly from the waist, the women curtsying. Some 
of the young girls, I must say, did it with more grace than many 
a peeress their mothers must have had them practicing for the 
whole year, a surmise several of them confirmed as I walked 
about exchanging pleasantries and good wishes. After the last of 
the gifts had been distributed and the Prince had wished each 
and everyone a Merry Christmas, we would withdraw leaving 
them to enjoy the season s cheer without the rigid formality his 
continued presence would have required. 

After the first Christmas I was relaxed and really enjoyed 
myself. But how the staid Britishers would react to this new 
fangled foreign Christmas custom I couldn t predict, and I was 
scared that first time. To my vast relief they loved it, and the 
children were thrilled. As the doors folded behind us the Prince 
remarked, "Good, old girl; you ve done it well." I never felt 
more like Queen Victoria in my life. 

Perhaps next to Christmas the biggest event of the year was 
Ascot. The racing was exciting but even more dramatic was the 
pageaiitry, with the Royal Family riding onto the course in the 
state landaus with the footmen in the special Royal Ascot Livery 
-the King s racing colors. The men all wore the famous Ascot 
ties, or stock, and gray toppers, the women their most flowery 
prints and big hats. The Prince had always had to ride in the 
landau facing his mother and father, and thus riding backward. 
He remarked one morning, as he was preparing to leave to join 
the procession and I was giving his stock a final straightening, 
that one of the few kingly prerogatives he looked forward to was 
seeing Ascot coming and not always going away! 

Prince George was not the only member of the Royal Family 
who was a regular visitor to the Fort and formed part of what, 


for lack of a better term, might be called the Prince s circle. The 
Duke of York Bertie as he was called by the family and his 
lovely Duchess, Elizabeth, were often there. They lived nearby 
at Royal Lodge. The Duke was more retiring than the Prince, 
less effervescent. He was content to live the quiet life of an Eng 
lish country gentleman and found his greatest delight in the 
bosom of his family. But he had his lighter side, too. I remember 
one time when the Prince had just received a new shipment of 
records, which were unusual for the time in that they were made 
of plastic. The Duke inspected them critically and finally said: 
"Come on, David, let s see if these are really unbreakable, as the 
label says." 

Thereupon the Prince and the Duke repaired to the Terrace 
and started scaling them up in the air like discuses and watching 
them crash down on the flagstones. The Duke soon learned to 
throw them in such a way that they would soar back again like 
boomerangs. While the brothers roared with laughter, the Duke 
had us ducking and dodging like rabbits. Unfortunately the 
records didn t break, and the game went on until we all ed 
inside. They followed us in and continued their sport in the 
drawing room until one of the Prince s most treasured lamps was 
bowled over by a direct hit and only by the greatest good fortune 
survived unscathed. The Prince then called a halt. 

But the scene I like most to remember is one winter weekend, 
when Virginia Water, the lovely little pond below the Fort in 
Windsor Great Park, froze over for almost the first time within 
living memory. The Prince, his two brothers, the Duchess of 
York, Mrs. Ralph Stobart, and I were walking along the edge of 
the frozen water when one of them suggested we all go skating. 
The Duchess and I were appalled at the prospect as neither of 
us had ever been on skates before. Neither her exalted station 
nor my piteous pleas did any good; we were given no quarter. 
Skates were brought down from the house, our feet were uncere 
moniously inserted in the boots by the laughing Princes, and we 



were led onto the ice. At the last minute the Duke took pity on 
us. From somewhere he produced two kitchen chairs for us to 
cling to. Hanging on to these sturdy if inelegant supports, the 
Duchess and I were soon able to navigate around the pond safely 
if not gracefully. She found the sight of the two of us thus 
equipped terribly funny and we were both soon off in gales of 
laughter. The lovely face of the Duchess, her superb coloring 
heightened by the cold, her eyes wrinkled with the sense of fun 
that was never far below the surface, made a picture I shall never 
forget. All her charm, good humor, and character were so evi 
dent then as always. I was not the least surprised that she turned 
out to be such a tower of strength to her husband and country 
after he ascended the Throne. I remember thinking at the time 
that if I ever had to live in a bungalow in a small town, this is the 
woman I would most like to have as a next-door neighbor to 
gossip with while hanging out the wash in our backyards. 

Early in December Duke left for Africa on a second safari. 
I was to join him after Christmas; I wanted to spend the holidays 
with our son Tony and of course the Prince s scheduled semi 
official visit to South America had something to do with the 
timing of my trip. 

The Prince and I met in Paris, where we were to separate he 
to go to Spain to board ship for South America, I to go to Naples 
en route to Mombasa. I helped him write a speech in Spanish for 
delivery in Argentina. But suddenly I came down with appendi 
citis. The Prince insisted that I return to England and consult 
Sir Crisp English, the famous surgeon. It was not until I promised 
that I would that he stopped fretting. 

The next morning the Prince left for Spain. I hated to see him 
go, knowing that it would be months before I would hear or see 
him again. Consequently, I was even more thrilled than I ordi 
narily would have been when, that night, I heard his voice on 
the telephone; he was calling from Santander, where his train had 
been delayed by an accident. 


I cabled Duke about my illness, saying that I was going back 
to London to see my doctor and that, if possible, I would join 
him later. I was greatly surprised to get the following cable in 


I didn t understand anything any more. What was the cause 
of this sudden change of heart? I was too ill to think. 

For the next few days I remained in bed in Paris; then I went 
back to London and consulted Sir Crisp English. He advised me 
that I had what is called a "rumbling appendix." The condition 
is temporarily upsetting but not dangerous, and he assured me 
that I could certainly go to Africa without an operation. Two 
weeks later I cabled Duke that I was on my way, 

A few days before I left I had a sweet letter from the Prince 
postmarked Cuba. He damned the Fate that separated us, and 
told me that his bears sent their love to mine. He went on to say 
that the Lawson-Johnstons and Betty s daughter and their son-in- 
law, Jane and Grant Mason, had brought him gifts of rum and 
records to the ship. He couldn t go ashore. President Machado 
was in the process of being removed by revolutionaries. A bullet 
intended for him might hit the Prince. Only the thought that 
every day brought us nearer together again kept him aliveor so 
he said! 

From Buenos Aires he reported that our work on his speech 
had paid off. The Argentinians were complimented and surprised 
when he addressed them in their native tongue, and Stanley 



Baldwin had cabled congratulations to him on his pronunciation. 

His occasional observations were interesting. However, for 
the most part he and I were the subject of his letters. 

The eighteen days on the ship, on my way to Mombasa, gave 
me ample time for thought. Duke s cable had upset me. What did 
he mean, "I know my feelings?" I thought that he had led me to 
understand only too well what his feelings were, and they had 
no direct relation to this cable. 

After my arrival, we stayed some two weeks in Nairobi. And 
for a time Duke was solicitous and attentive; but it wasn t long 
before he reverted to his old mannerisms, and resumed his ha 
bitual shouting and swearing. When Rattray, our white hunter, 
Duke, and I left on safari, I was terribly confused. 

One night, as I went to my tent, I realized that this experiment 
of Duke s had only aggravated our situation. I had come back- 
to what? I realized then that the damage our marriage had suf 
fered was far too great to mend. My husband asleep in the tent 
next to mine, less than twenty feet away, was a thousand miles 
away in feeling, in understanding. But who was I to blame him 
for his infidelities? Why take it as a fault that he was vulnerable 
to beauty and passion? Wasn t I to blame, too? Wasn t I just as 

When the dawn came, I got up. Duke was already stirring. 
I slipped on my dressing gown. Perhaps, I thought, we could still 
talk things out. But as I sauntered toward his tent, I could hear 
him exploding one oath after another at the bath boy. Instinc 
tively I turned back toward my tent. It s no use, I said to myself; 
it s too late we have drifted too far apart. 

When we came back from Africa, we brought with us two 
Grevy s zebras. These zebras, which have a much broader stripe 
than the more common ones, are very wild and scarce. Rattray 
and we had quite a time capturing these fascinating beasts, 


Andrew Rattray was a man in his sixties who had spent most 
of his life hunting, all over the world. Duke and I stopped at his 
house one day, at the foot of Kilimanjaro, in Tanganyika, and I 
was amazedthis house could only be described as a shack. It 
consisted of a single room. Half-cured pelts hung on the walls. 
Empty tin cans and I don t know what else littered the floor. 

Duke had an idea that these zebras could be domesticated. He 
thought it would be a novelty and fun to harness them to a 
pony cart and drive them to hunt meets in Leicestershire. So it 
was arranged that Rattray was to bring them back to England 
and break them in. When Rattray arrived in England, his pres 
ence, however, was a problem. His status in our household was 
not clear. We weren t quite sure whether he had come to us as 
a guest or as a retainer. Was his place with us, or was he to be 
housed in the servants quarters? 

"After all," Duke said, "he is an interesting man, and he prob 
ably will have much to say that could be interesting to our 
friends. So let s have him eat with us." 

Averill was enchanted with the zebras. Breaking them in be 
came a challenge to her. The day came when she finally saddled 
one with Rattray s help. How miraculous, I thought, to be able 
to tame these wild animals as they had done. They now seemed 
so gentle. Far from it! As Averill headed the zebra for the riding 
ring, it suddenly turned and gave her a vicious bite on die leg. 
But this wasn t a simple bite. Her leg became infected. 

Duke had doctors flown in from the four corners of the earth. 
Each tried to heal this wound which wouldn t heal. Finally 
Rattray said, "If you will let me do something, I can cure it." 

I don t remember the name of the salve he put on Averill s leg 
it was something he used in Africa on injured wild animals. But 
Averill s leg healed. The zebras were taken to the London Zoo, 
Rattray went back to Africa, and we thought no more of the 



On our return to 2 1 Grosvenor Square, I realized that Duke 
and I could not go on the way we were. Living in the same house 
under the circumstances had become impossible, and Duke and 
I agreed to separate. At dinner that night at York House I told 
the Prince I was leaving Duke. As he took me in his arms, I felt 
that he, too, realized and understood that the strain we had both 
been under the past few months had been unbearable and that 
sooner or later something had to happen. Well, it happened. This 
decision of mine was not made on the spur of the moment; ever 
since our half-hearted attempt in Africa to try and pick up the 
frail threads of what remained of our marriage, I had thought of 
nothing else. My friends implored me not to be hasty. Gav was 
furious "Don t be a fool don t you know Duke by this time? 
Oh! you Americans and your divorces." But nothing they said 
could change my mind. I knew my life with Duke was over. 
As I leaned my head back on the sofa, the Prince s arms around 
me, I closed my eyes. What of the future, I thought to myself 
what was in store for us? As every woman dreams of an idyllic 
existence with the man she loves and all that goes with it, so did 
I; but in my heart of hearts I realized that it was just that just 
dreams. As far as I was concerned, the obstacles in our path were 

The King was still alive, but I knew the day would come when 
the Prince would have to take his place on the Throne and all 
of the responsibilities that went with it. England as well as the 
British Empire worshiped him. He had endeared himself not 
only to his own people but to the world. England looked for 
ward, I am sure, as another generation had when Edward VII 
came to the throne at Queen Victoria s death, to a new eraan 
era of a young and progressive King a King who had traveled 
the world over in their interests. 

I wondered what was going through his mind as I sat silently 
with my own thoughts. He startled me out of my reverie as, 


holding me a little closer, he said, "Oh, my darling, I am sure 
you have made the right decision. I am so very, very happy," 
and at that moment all thoughts of the future went out of my 
head and I felt secure in his love. 

A few days later I went to stay with my sister, Consuelo, in a 
charming house she and Benny had taken in Farm Street. Just 
before I left, Duke told me he was taking Averill and Dick on an 
African safari later that year. 

A few days before Duke was to leave, Averill came to me and 
said, "Thelma, darling, promise me you won t breathe a word of 
this to Duke, but as soon as I get to Africa I m going to marry 

I was shocked. Taking her hand in mine, I said, "Listen, 
darling, you don t know what you re doing. You don t know 
anything about him. You have no idea where and how he lives. 
You couldn t stand it. Why, it s really primitive. I love you, and 
do care what happens to you. I implore you don t marry 

"I don t care how he lives," Averill answered stubbornly. "I 
love Andy and I m going to marry him." This speech had a 
strange sound coming from a girl who had always lived in the 
center of extraordinary luxurywith personal maids, two or 
more cars at her disposal, hunters of her own. What was she 
thinking? After Averill left, the more I thought about it the 
more I was convinced that, in all fairness to her father, I could 
not fail to warn him. I sent a hurried note asking him to come to 
see me. 

"Duke, it is none of my business, really," I said on his arrival. 
"Averill has asked me to promise not to say anything, but I can 
not let you go off to Africa without letting you know that she 
intends to marry Rattray when she gets there." 

Duke blew up, but his explosion was not directed at Averill; 
it was directed at me. "What the bloody hell do you mean? What 



the hell are you trying to do? I don t believe you. I don t believe 
a word of it!" he shouted, as he slammed the door. 

They all left for Africa the next day. 

A few weeks later the London newspapers bore headlines an 
nouncing that "the Honorable Averill Furness has married An 
drew Rattray, her father s white hunter." Duke in a fury cut her 
off without a penny. I wired Averill wishing her all happiness. 
That same day I had a wire from her announcing the marriage. 
Our cables must have crossed. Within the week came an air 
mail letter. 

"Thelma, darling," it began, "I was delighted to get your wire 
yesterday and know that one member of the family is sym 
pathetic. Wa could not let you know that we % were getting 
married as the whole thing was a dead secret." 

Life on safari had been terrible and her father difficult. 

"Goodness only knows why," she went on. "He insulted us 
both in every way he could think of. The climax came about a 
month ago. We had a lovely row, and I demanded to come home 
on the next boat. After that he was worse than ever and finally 
sacked Andy. That was the most fortunate thing that could have 
happened, as it made everything much easier for us." 

Rattray left when Duke fired him, Averill followed, and they 
were married in Nairobi with Averill s maid for a witness. 

"I had no idea the papers at home would get hold of it before 
you got my wire. Of course there is a devil of a lot of talk here, 
but things are quieting down now, I hope." 

Another white hunter, Lunsden, had tried to alert Duke in the 
jungle. He flew a plane to the spot where the Furness safari was 
located but a sudden and violent thunderstorm prevented his 

"Duke is due in town Friday," Averill continued. "If I come 
home to Burrough it s only to pack my things. Honestly, Thelma, 
it is absolutely impossible to exist anywhere near him and keep 


one s reason. Anyway, all that is past now, thank God, and for 
the first time in my life I am really happy. Well, my dear, this is 
rather a bitter letter but you can guess I m feeling sore in spite of 
everything else being perfect. Do write to us! Torres Club, 
Nairobi, will always find us and don t forget I ve a new name. 
You did not in your telegram. How is Tony? Poor old Dick will 
be the next one to go, I expect. He is never allowed out shooting 
on this safari, but has to remain in camp washing lorries and 
building grass banyas [shelters]. 

"My maid is on her way home to pack up all my stuff at 
Burrough. I have given her Jumbo, my dog, as she is marrying 
Taylor [the chauffeur] and I know will look after him. Be an 
angel and see she gets him. Do write me and let me know how he 
is. Dearest love, Averill." 

What a tragic letter, and I could do nothing about it. Duke 
cut the poor child off without a cent. Then, suddenly, Rattray 
died. That piece of news also hit the papers before I heard it. I 
cabled Averill: "Darling, is there anything I can do? You know 
my home is yours." 

She replied by cable that she was flying out and would be in 
London within the next few days. Meanwhile, Duke had come 
home. Averill came straight to me the moment she arrived. I 
hardly knew her. Although never pretty in a feminine way, she 
was always meticulously groomed. Her lovely red hair always 
gleamed from daily brushing, her skin had a well-scrubbed, 
wholesome look, her nails were beautifully manicured, and her 
clothes were carefully brushed and pressed. But now she was 
disheveled, unkempt. Yet lack of grooming was not the only 
cause of the appalling change in her appearance. She had not only 
coarsened, but she had suddenly matured in a thick, ugly way. 
There was now no longer any resemblance to the slight girl who 
had been the Honorable Averill Furness. Yet in her trouble she 
had turned to me, and I wanted to help her. 



I telephoned Duke. He wouldn t speak to her. But I was 
pleased when I managed to persuade him to settle 500 a 
year on her. However, my efforts were seemingly in vain, for 
shortly after this she returned to Africa and Rattray s shack, and 
there she died alone, of a broken heart, I am sure. 



"Take Care of Him" 


Early in January 1934 Gloria asked me to visit her. She was 
planning to go to California. I had not been to California for 
years, and we both had many friends there it would be pleasant 
to see again. I decided I would join her in New York then go 
west with her. 

I spent the weekend of January 1 2 at the Fort. As I remember, 
the guests with us were "G." Trotter, the Prince of Wales aide- 
de-camp; the Duke of Kent (Prince George); the Duchess of 
Buccleuch; and the Lawson Johnsons. General Trotter "G." 
had lost one arm in the Boer War; he had been the Prince s aide 
for years and was devoted to him. In "G. s" eyes, at least at that 
time, the Prince could do no wrong. He would refer to the 
Prince endearingly as "My Master." The Duchess of Buccleuch, 
who often stayed at the Fort, was an extraordinary beauty. Betty 
Lawson-Johnston was an American, like myself, and a great 
friend; she came from the deep South and would entertain us by 
singing, in a rich voice, wonderful Negro spirituals, many of 
which she had collected and written down herself while living 
in the plantation country. She had a quaint habit of calling every 
thing "little," no matter how large its actual dimensions; in lilting, 
flutelike tones she would refer casually to the "dear little South 
land" or "dear little Buckingham Palace." Ernest Simpson, for 



once stealing Wallis thunder, maintained that "dear little Betty 
must live in the land of the pygmies." 

That Saturday the Prince went off to play golf. I had promised 
to pick him up. Later, on the way back from the links, I decided 
to broach the matter of my trip to America. "Darling," I said, 
"I ve just had a letter from Gloria asking me to come over for a 
short visit. I would very much like to go. Would you mind very 

The Prince seemed surprised. "Oh, darling," he asked, "how 
long would you be gone?" 

I felt rather guilty. "Just five or six weeks," I answered, trying 
to make "weeks" sound as insignificant as "days." 

His face took on a look of resignation, as if to imply that 
although this was not to his liking, he would say nothing that 
might interfere with my pleasure. "Of course, dear. Do what 
you want." And then he added, "But I will miss you; I will miss 
you very much." 

I was uneasy. It was obvious that the Prince was not too happy 
about my leaving. I wondered if it was right to go. Little did I 

Meanwhile, back in London, I busied myself preparing for 
the trip. 

Three or four days before I was to sail, I had lunch with Wallis 
at the Ritz. I told her of my plans, and in my exuberance I 
offered myself for all the usual yeoman s services. Was there 
anything I could do for her in America? Were there any mes 
sages I could deliver? Did she want me to bring anything back 
for her? She thanked me and said suddenly, "Oh, Thelma, the 
little man is going to be so lonely." 

"Well, dear," I answered, "you look after him for me while 
Fm away. See that he does not get into any mischief." 

It was later evident that Wallis took my advice all too literally. 
Whether or not she kept him out of mischief is a question whose 
answer hinges on the fine points of semantics. 


The day I was to sail, I went to the Fort for dinner. Now that 
the time had come for me really to go, I had no wish to leave. 
The Prince seemed so forlorn; I felt so forlorn. When the dinner 
was over, and my car was at the door, ready to take me to 
Southampton, we said our farewells. Til be back soon, darling," 
I said as he kissed me. Then reluctantly I got into the automobile. 

(It has been said that I went to America to help Gloria in her 
custody case. This is true, but not of this voyage: I left England 
on the twentieth of January 1934, and was back in London the 
twenty-second of March. The disgraceful case Mrs. Harry Payne 
Whitney instigated did not come up until September 1934 a 
good six months later.) 

A week or so after my arrival in New York, where I had a 
wonderful time, Gloria and I left for California. It was good to 
be back in America, but I missed the Prince very much. Yet we 
were never actually out of contact with each other. He tele 
phoned me constantly; and on days when phoning was not 
practical, he sent me long, intimate cables in our private code. 

The cables were most affectionate, and I loved them; but as 
the Prince once wrote me, while on a tour in South America, 
"Cables are also very nice, my darling, but never the same thing, 
are they?" This was a fairly obvious observation, but love is 
usually expressed by the perfectly obvious. The language of love 
is a necklace of cliches. 

As the Prince s cables were usually quite long, it took me hours 
to translate them into intelligible English. How I hated this 
decoding! When you are in love, you want to know everything 
at once! But the effort was worth-while, for in code you can say 
many more things than in bald English, open for all to read, and 
this way we did not have to leave unsaid all the little sentimental 
things so dear to the heart of a woman. 

In Los Angeles, Gloria and I stopped at the Town House. We 
were warmly entertained by our old friends, among them 



Corinne Griffith, Dorothy di Frasso, Kay Francis, Harry Cohn, 
Bebe Daniels, Louella Parsons, Marion Davies, Constance Ben 
nett, and William Randolph Hearst. We were constantly busy. 
Yet, in spite of this, the Prince and I managed to keep our line 
of communication clear. One day, for example, Gloria and I 
visited Constance Bennett at the studio. She was that day on the 
set, doing a scene in a picture called, if my memory is to be trusted, 
The Affairs of Cellini. The three of us had lunch on the lot. We 
had scarcely begun when somebody came to our table and said, 
"Lady Furness, there is an overseas telephone call for you. Some 
body at Buckingham Palace wants to talk to you." 

I dashed to the phone. 

Gloria told me afterward that within a few minutes every 
body in the restaurant knew that the Prince of Wales was calling 
me. I had at long last become a stara star without a studio. 

A week later I was in New York, waiting for the ship back to 
England. Mrs. Frank Storres gave a small dinner party for me. 
Seated at my right was Aly Khan. At that time Aly was a very 
handsome, very dashing young man, with great charm the kind 
of charm that makes women feel important. Aly told me that he 
was on his way to Florida to look over some horses for his father. 
The late Aga Khan owned some of the finest horses in the world 
and had, I believe, won the English Derby five times. Aly turned 
his battery of charm on me. I was flattered, although at the time 
certainly not interested. In the course of conversation I men 
tioned to Aly that I was leaving in a few days for London. I 
was most surprised when he said to me, in all seriousness, "Fm 
sailing in ten days. Can t you put off your trip for a week? We 
could sail on the same ship." 

"Certainly not," I answered. "I can t. I ve promised to get 
right backI ve been gone long enough." 

Aly seemed disappointed. "Well, then," he said, apparently to 


salvage something from his efforts, "will you dine with me to 
morrow night? " 

I saw nothing impractical in this. "I think that would be very 
nice," I answered. "Telephone me in the morning." 

The following morning a large box of flowers arrived with a 
note saying, "Will call you at eleven thirty." It is odd, Gloria 
and I both have a passion for flowers, and most men who have 
admired us have always by some intuition announced their inter 
est in us with notes attached to impressive masses of flowers. I 
was pleased. 

We dined together that night; we talked; we danced. 

When I sailed, Gloria and some friends came to see me off. 
When we got to my cabin, I was surprised to find that it was 
massed with red roses: there were roses on the dresser, roses 
against the walls, on the floor. My friends exchanged knowing 
looks. And when I read the many cards that were attached to 
the various flower arrangements, I found a series of somewhat 
extravagant notes: "See you in London, Aly"; "Love, Aly"; 
"You left too soon, Aly." 

I winked at Gloria, then dismissed the issue from my mind. 
Aly, I thought, was certainly persistent; he was certainly attrac 
tive; but it so happened I was not interested. 

The following morning I was having my breakfast in bed when 
the telephone rang. "Hello, darling," said a voice I couldn t quite 
place. "This is Aly. Will you have lunch with me today?" 

I took this as a joke. "Where will it be, Aly? Palm Beach or 
New York?" 

"Right here," Aly said, laughing. "I m on board. I finished my 
business and flew back just in time to make the ship. Did you like 
the flowers?" 

All this, I admit, was very gay, very flattering. And every 
woman is susceptible to flattery, particularly when it comes from 
a man as debonair, as decisive, and as imaginative as Aly. Aly 



had and probably still has a way with women; this comes from 
his combination of good looks, self-assurance, and sensitivity to 
subtleties. As a consequence, he is an arbiter of excellencies. He 
follows in the tradition of men who sat on peacock thrones and 
constructed Taj Mahals for the women they loved. This quality 
of romantic largesse obviously adds to his attractiveness and con 
jures up the splendid images and dramatic pageants whose forms 
are sketched in the books notably translated by Sir Richard 

I dined with Aly that night and the remaining nights of the 
voyage. But as the pleasant days and nights went by, I realized 
that Aly s attentions were getting a little more serious than any 
thing I was prepared for or anything I wanted at that time. 

When we were approaching England, I told him that my car 
was meeting me at Southampton, and that I was driving to Lon 
don. He asked me if I could give him a lift. Naturally I said yes; 
the trip from Southampton to London is not long, but is more 
fun if you don t have to make it alone. 

The night before we landed I was called to the telephone. The 
Prince s voice came over the wire. Was I going to London by 
train or car? If by car, would I stop at the Fort and have dinner? 

"No, darling," I said, "I can t stop. I ve promised a lift to a 

I was in a delicate spot. I had promised Aly this lift, and I was 
not quite sure that the Prince liked Aly. To mention his name 
might have created an issue. I don t know that I avoided the issue 
by not naming him, but in my confusion over the phone I was 
not able to find a tactful solution to the problem. 

"Oh," said the Prince. "Very well. Then shall we dine at your 

The Prince arrived at my house in Regent s Park that night, 
Thursday, March 22, 1934. He seemed a little distrait, as if 
something were bothering him. At dinner the conversation 
seemed to me somewhat stiff; there was not the easygoing, re- 



laxed talk we always had had. And when coffee was served, I 
noticed that he looked at me oddly. Suddenly he said, "I hear Aly 
Khan has been very attentive to you." 

I thought he was joking. I couldn t understand this abrupt shift 
in the conversation. What could the Prince know about the flirta 
tion Aly had attempted on the ship? This was really silly, I 

"Are you jealous, darling?" I asked. I could well afford to 
joke; there could have been no possible basis for any real jeal 
ousy. But the Prince did not answer me. We sat silent for some 
time, then we made small talk. 

What had happened? Was the Prince trying to tell me some 
thingsomething that he found difficult to say? Or was there 
something else that was bothering him? I was in no position to 

It took me exactly twelve daysfrom March 22 to April 2, 
1934 to find out. 

Just before he left my house, the Prince asked me if I would 
come down to the Fort the following day, Friday, the twenty- 
third, for the weekend. "Of course, darling," I said, "I d love to." 
Later, as I was getting rfeady for bed, my mind went back to the 
earlier scene. How could the Prince be jealous of Aly? It must 
be only my imagination. 

But the weekend told another story. At the Fort, the Prince, 
although formally cordial, was personally distant. He seemed to 
want to avoid me. I knew that something was wrong. But what? 
What had happened in those short weeks while I was away? 

When I got back to London, I telephoned Wallk I needed a 
friend s advice. I told her I would like to see her that afternoon; 
I was worried; perhaps she could help me. In retrospect, it is 
quite evident that I chose the wrong friend. 

When I arrived at Bryanston Court, where Wallis had a flat, 
Kane, her maid, answered the door. She showed me to the draw- 



ing room. Wallis said to her, "We don t want to be disturbed for 
any reason. Please answer the phone." 

I told Wallis about the night of my arrival, my talk with the 
Prince, the odd reference he had made to Aly Khan. What had 
happened? Did she know? Had she heard anything? I was cer 
tain that if there were any tangible reasons for the Prince s 
change in attitude, Wallis would know about them and tell me. 
But the only answer I got to my questions was the saccharine 
assurance, "Darling, you know the little man loves you very 
much. The little man was just lost without you." 

Empty as these sentences were, they were a kind of emotional 
bulwark. Here was Wallis, my friend and my confidante, assur 
ing me that everything was what it had been. After a while I said, 
"Wallis, the Prince has asked me to come to the Fort next week 
end. It s Easter weekend, you know. Would you and Ernest care 
to come down? It might help." 

"Of course," Wallis replied warmly, "we d love to." 

At that moment Kane came back into the room and told Wallis 
that she was wanted on the telephone. Wallis was irritated. "I 
told you," she said, "I did not want to be disturbed." 

Kane s face was a study in confusion. "But, Madam," she said 
hesitantly, half in a whisper, "it s His Royal Highness." 

Wallis looked at me strangely. "Excuse me," she said, and left 
the room. The door was left open. I heard Wallis in the next 
room saying to the Prince, "Thelma is here," and I half rose 
from my chair, expecting to be called to the telephone. There 
was no summons, however, and when Wallis returned, she made 
no reference to the conversation. This omission would have been 
surprising at any time; it was all the more surprising at a moment 
when the Prince was the point of our conversation. The call 
became a punctuation mark, yet it was not clear whether the 
mark was an exclamation point or a period. 

There was no further discussion. I left Wallis, after arranging 


to pick her and Ernest up that Friday afternoon to drive with 
them to the Fort. 

The weekend was negatively memorable. I do not remember 
who was there, other than the Simpsons; there were about eight 
of us in all. I had a bad cold when we arrived; I was, in fact, 
miserable. I went to bed early that night, hoping that a good rest 
would make the cold less annoyingand less conspicuous. Most 
of Saturday passed without incident. At dinner, however, I 
noticed that the Prince and Wallis seemed to have little private 
jokes. Once he picked up a piece of salad with his fingers; Wallis 
playfully slapped his hand. I, so overprotective of heaven knows 
what, caught her eye and shook my head at her. She knew as 
well as everybody else that the Prince could be very friendly, but 
no matter how friendly, he never permitted familiarity. His 
image of himself, shy, genial, and democratic, was always framed 
by the royal three feathers. 

Wallis looked straight at me. And then and there I knew the 
"reason" was Wallis Wallis, of all people. And this was the 
friend I had asked, jokingly, to look after the Prince for me while 
I was away the friend to whom I had gone for advice, and who 
had assured me "the little man" missed me very much. I knew 
then she had looked after him exceedingly well. That one cold, 
defiant glance had told me the entire story. 

I went to bed early that night, without saying good night to 
anyone. I wanted to be insulated from the world; I wanted 
privacy, and I wanted to think. So much had so suddenly cas 
caded on my head. I was still not prepared to accept as a final 
truth what I had been witness to; the logic of my brain was con 
tradicted by what I wanted to believe the logic of my heart. 

A little later the Prince came up to my bedroom. Was there 
anything he could have sent up for my cold? 

The cold by now was a negligible issue. I searched his face for 
an answer to the central question. Would his expression be as 
outspoken as Wallis ? 



"Darling," I asked bluntly, "is it Wallis?" 

The Prince s features froze. "Don t be silly!" he said crisply. 
Then he walked out of the room, closing the door quietly behind 

I knew better. I left the Fort the following morning. 


Little Gloria Grows Up 


When the smoke had cleared from the battleground of the trial, 
I went with Mr. Burkan to see Surrogate Foley and told him I 
didn t want any of the Vanderbilt money. Judge Foley suddenly 
became protective. "Mrs. Vanderbilt," he said, "you will regret 
this decision for the rest of your life. Nobody is asking you to 
do this." 

"Surrogate Foley," I answered, "I have not got my Gloria. I 
do not want her money. I will manage somehow." Of course I 
could no longer afford the East Seventy-second Street house, so 
I rented a small apartment at the Southgate, on East Fifty-second 
Street. I sold most of my furniture, keeping only enough to make 
Wann, my devoted maid, and me comfortable. 

Then came other problems. The Court had decided that Gloria 
was to be with me every weekendand the month of July. But 
my new apartment, in Surrogate Foley s eyes, was not adequate. 
"You can t take Gloria there," he said. "It s not large enough for 
you and Gloria and Gloria s governess and Gloria s bodyguards." 
The Surrogate insisted that Gloria should be surrounded with an 
entourage which would do credit to a Medici in a time of civil 

"Very well, Your Honor," I replied, "if you will allow my 
lawyers, or Mrs. Whitney s lawyersor whoever you want to 



engage an apartment at the Hotel Sherry Netherlands for our 
weekend use, I ll take Gloria there." 

Although this arrangement cost $21,000 a year, including the 
July visit, it met with no objection from Judge Foley. 

What followed belongs in a musical comedy. Every Saturday 
morning Wann would pack my traveling case and we would 
taxi the seven blocks north and six blocks west to the hotel. My 
ten-year-old daughter had her own car and chauffeur; and 
around noon each Saturday she would be driven in this car, 
together with her nurse and her private detectives, to meet me. 
Every Sunday afternoon, precisely at sundown, this pageant 
would be staged in reverse. 

Naturally, a situation as artificial as this was not only nerve- 
racking for Gloria as well as for me, but it tended to give Gloria 
a somewhat exaggerated sense of her position in life. There was, 
for example, the Saturday my brother Harry and Edith, his wife, 
and her three children were in New York. They had planned to 
go to the Bronx Zoo, and they invited little Gloria to join them. 
Gloria was delighted, but the nurse and the detective insisted that 
all make the trip in Gloria s car. When the party reached One 
Hundred and Tenth Street, Gloria announced that she wanted 
an ice-cream cone. The nurse immediately turned to the chauf 
feur and said, "Drive back to Sherry s at Fifth Avenue and Fifty- 
eighth Street." 

"Why do we have to go back?" one of the other children 
asked, astonished. "Why don t you go to a drugstore?" 

The nurse sniffed haughtily. "Gloria," she said, "only likes 
Sherry s ice cream." 

Back they went. 

During one of the weekends, when Gloria was about twelve, 
she asked me if I wouldn t make up with her grandmother. As 
much as this went against my grain, I realized how much this 
would mean to Gloria, and I reluctantly went with her to see 



Mamma. The meeting, as can be imagined, was very strained 
Little Gloria did most of the talking. My only compensation for 
the trying 6rdeal was that Gloria, going down in the elevator, 
squeezed my hand and said, "Thank you, Mummy dear. It was 
very nice of you, and you have made me very happy." 

Gloria at that time was movie struck; a good part of each 
weekend was spent at the pictures. In time I think I became the 
world s greatest authority on the B and C movies of the 1934-35 
period. To me this interminable movie-viewing had its advan 
tages, because in the theaters at least we could sit in happy silence. 
Yet there was one continuing problem this routine raised: avoid 
ing the press. We were news. Photographers followed us every 
where we went. They would wait for us in theater lobbies; some 
times they would slip into the orchestra and take flash shots of us 
in our seats. Gloria then would tremble and hide her face. Even 
tually, I worked out ways for us to slip into movie houses like 
characters in a spy thriller. We went into most of the Times 
Square theaters through side doors. We entered the Capitol 
through Mesmore Kendall s apartment, which had a private en 
trance to one of the theater s boxes. 

One Saturday I suggested that we vary our routine by going 
for a drive. Gloria had never seen the George Washington 
Bridge; I told the chauffeur to go up Riverside Drive, then turn 
and cross the bridge. Suddenly, just as we were in the middle of 
the bridge, it dawned on me that we were crossing into New 
Jersey an act that would violate the court order. Gloria was not 
permitted to leave the state. I had the car stopped at once. I sent 
one of the detectives ahead to the Jersey end of the bridge to 
explain the situation to the authorities, and to ask if they would 
allow me to make a U-turn and reverse my tracks to New York. 
This they considerately allowed me to do, and we returned to 
New York as slightly frustrated^but law-abiding citizens. 

When Gloria was fourteen, she asked me if I couldn t do 
something to have the court order changed. As things stood, she 



was a ward of the state of New York; she could not leave the 
state without special permission from the Court. If Gloria s 
friends asked her to stay with them in Connecticut, or her cousins 
invited her to Newport, we would have to get a court order 
before she could go, and even then she would have to be back 
with me for the weekends. And she was also bound, whether she 
liked it or not, whether I liked it or not, and whether Mrs. 
Whitney liked it or not, to spend weekends with me those 
famous, horrible weekends-and the month of July. Gloria 
wanted the Court to allow her to come to me when she really 
wanted to come, or when I wanted her to come, and not when a 
visit was required arbitrarily according to the Court s timetable. 
The existing arrangement was as hard on Gloria as it was on me. 

Emotionally and legally this situation was exceedingly strange. 
It was something you would expect in a fantastic novel, not in 
the midst of a normal flesh-and-blood family. Our family, it 
seems to me, was very much flesh and blood, but as far as 
"normal" behavior was concerned, it was distinctly amiss. "I m 
in a very difficult position, Gloria," I said. "I m damned if I 
do and I m damned if I don t. Your aunt with her battery of 
lawyers might come back into the picture and say, You see- 
even the weekends are too much for her. She doesn t want the 

I also told Gloria that I agreed with her. "But," I asked, "what 
will your aunt say?" 

"Auntie Ger," Gloria said, "will do anything I ask." 

Well, go and ask her, and if this new arrangement is agreeable 
to her-and she will back me up-I will apply for a new court 

At any rate, the order was amended and it was decreed that 
Gloria should come to me whenever both of us so wished. The 
atmosphere between us immediately changed; there was warmth 
and friendship and understanding between us. I was a mother 
Gloria turned to for advice and for help in her little conspira- 


tonal plans. She was beginning her teen-age romances and sud 
denly she discovered that I was most sympathetic. 

When the court order was changed, $21,000 was made avail 
able to me to cover both my normal expenses and those which 
were incurred whenever little Gloria said, "Mummy, Fd like to 
come and spend the night with you." 

Provided with this new freedom of movement, I went, at the 
beginning of 1940, to California. 





Early in 1939 my twin and I took a little house called Piccola 
Bella, which was in a small village above Cannes. Gloria later went 
back to America, and I stayed on alone. One evening, to my 
amazement, I had a call from Duke. He was staying at the Carlton 
in Cannes, and asked if I would have lunch with him the follow 
ing day. "Where is Enid?" I asked, referring to the woman Duke 
had married after I divorced him. 

"I ll tell you all about that at lunch," Duke replied. 

The next day he sent his car for me, and I picked him up at 
his hotel. We drove to St. Paul and lunched in the same restau 
rant we had visited during our romantic honeymoon. "Enid has 
left me; a divorce is in the offing," he stated, without making 
further explanation. I let the subject drop. We talked then of 
Tony, of Dick, and of many of our old friends. And again I felt 
very close to Duke. Our past differences now seemed remote and 

While we talked I noticed that Duke seemed extrgfnely jittery. 
His movements were abrupt and jerky, and he seemed to exag 
gerate his old mannerism of tucking his handkerchief in his 
sleeve. As we drove back to Cannes, I noticed that Duke was 
biting his knuckles. Obviously, he was in pain. I tried to get him 
to tell me what the trouble was, but he wouldn t tell me. 

We went up to Duke s suite, and there, Duke called for his 


valet; but the valet was not to be found anywhere. Then Duke 
took off his coat and asked me to give him an injection a piqure. 
I couldn t do this because I did not know how; I had never 
handled a hypodermic needle. Finally, he asked me simply to 
pinch his arm, and he gave himself the injection. I realized then 
that he was obviously quite ill and required some special kind of 
medication; exactly what it was I didn t know. 

During the days that followed Duke was extremely ill. He was 
kept in bed at the hotel, and almost every day I would visit him, 
having either lunch or dinner with him in his room. 

One day while we were having lunch the telephone rang. The 
call was from Duke s* secretary in London. He told Duke that 
Enid was back in London, that she had tried to commit suicide, 
and was then in a London hospital. She was asking for him. 
Would he come at once? 

Ill as he was, Duke got out of bed and flew to London in his 
own plane. Dick told me afterward that the so-called suicide was 
nothing more than a rest and beauty treatment. 

A few months later Duke s secretary^ phoned me in Cannes to 
say that Duke had had a very serious operation and was not 
expected to live. Enid, Lady Furness, had left him, "this time for 
good, she says," and had gone to America. "Lord Furness," said 
the secretary, "is asking for you. Will you come?" Immediately 
I flew back to London. I was with Duke until he recuperated. We 
spent a few days together at Guildtown, and then I returned to 
the Villa Piccola Bella. 

The Riviera in the spring of 1939 was memorable for its divine 
weather. The mimosa bloomed early, turning gardens and hills 
into gold. The skies had never been so blue, the sun never so 
bright. As spring gave way to summer, Dick arrived by car with 
his valet. My handsome, gay, debonair stepson seemed more 
charming than ever. 

On August 23 Dick gave me a birthday party. It was a gala 



party, the last we would know on the Riviera for a long, long 
while. The following morning a somber-faced Dick met me on 
the terrace. He had a telegram in his hand; he had been ordered 
to report immediately to his regiment. War was at hand. Dick, 
Tony, our personal servants, and I left by car for Paris the 
following day. 

When we arrived in Paris, we found that it was not easy to get 
transportation back to England; people were fleeing the city in 
such numbers that all travel facilities were jammed. Dick took 
over. Could passage be had on a Channel boat for his stepmother, 
his ten-year-old half-brother, and himself? 

On August 29 the Consul General crowded not only us, but 
our cars, into an already-overcrowded boat. There were no 
chairs, no cabins. We slept on deck, as Gloria, Mamma, and I 
had slept, under similar conditions, in the ominous days of 
World War I. 

It was past noon when the boat nosed up to the dock at Dover. 
Dick drove the car off, we all piled in, and made for the nearest 
hotel to clean up. As we walked into the lobby, loud-speakers 
were blaring reports on the present crisis. We freshened up and 
hurried back to the car; the sooner we got to London the better. 
Early in the morning of September i Germany invaded Poland, 
and on September 3, at 1 1: 15 A.M. the Prime Minister announced 
that war had been declared. 

Dick reported at once to his regiment. Not long afterward he 
dashed over to my house to say good-by. His regiment was off 
to France. 

Tony returned to Summerfield, his school. 

An ominous quiet hung like a pall over London. The chill of 
war gripped the city. I longed for noise, for activity, for the 
sounds of life. Everybody was waiting, tense, for the bombs 
which, as yet, had not been dropped. It was like waiting for a 
second shoe to fall. I lived in terror of bombs falling in the coun 
try on Tony. 


Some five months later my maid announced that Lieutenant 
Furness was downstairs. I rushed to Dick and threw myself in 
his arms. How good it was to see him! Here was a link to a 
brighter past. "Can you put me up?" he asked. 

Could I? Dear Dick, as if I would let him stay any place but 
in my home. His father, I was told later, was really quite upset 
about this. Duke still lived in the south of France, and he had 
counted on having Dick spend his leave with him. But, instead, 
Dick came to England, although not entirely because he wanted 
to see me, I m sure; he also wanted to do some hunting. 

The war had turned everything into a queer, unreal, looking- 
glass world, with everybody and everything topsy-turvy. Yet 
Dick seemed still the same old Dickgay, happy, without a care 
in this world. Whatever he saw was a "jolly good show," even 
the war. With gas rationed we couldn t drive out into the coun 
try, but we did take long walks; and always there were many 
memories, so many reminders of the past. When he went back to 
France, I saw him off. He had two greyhounds on a leash. 

"Dick, what in the world have you got these two greyhounds 
for," I asked, "when you re going to war?" 

He grinned. "Look at the collars." 

On the collars was printed, "By order of Lord Gort." 

"While we re sitting over there doing nothing" this was 
during the first months of the "phony war" "we might just as 
well have some coursing." 

How handsome he looked in his uniform, leaning out of the 
train window waving his cap, the wind rumpling his auburn hair. 

That was the last time I ever saw him. 

A couple of days later London got its first honest-to-goodness 

My basement was large. Air-raid officials made it a public air 
raid shelter. People would dash in off the street; sometimes I 
would find fifty or sixty there. Day and night the bombing con- 



turned. Everybody who could was leaving London. My lawyer 
urged me to take Tony and go to America. My maid and I 
packed to the accompaniment of bombs. I put all my favorite 
possessions down in the basement the crepe-de-Chine sheets I 
had made myself, rugs, silver, furniture. I left my chauffeur, his 
wife, and their children in the house as caretakers, and once 
more Tony and I boarded a Channel boat. In my pocketbook 
were one-way steamship tickets to America; but the south of 
France, from which we had fled ten months before, was our 
immediate destination. 

Soon after Tony and I left England, a bomb fell on Green 
Street, and the drains of London began emptying into my base 
ment. What few of my possessions were not ruined by water 
were sent to Burrough Court. 

Tony and I stayed in Cannes with my brother Harry and his 
wife Edith until our ship sailed. 

Duke was living with Enid in a villa he had bought near Monte 
Carlo. Since we did not expect to return to Europe for a long 
while, I called him up and asked if he would like to see Tony. 
Duke was hesitant; he explained that it would be difficult for 
him to get away. "I ll tell you what I ll do," he said finally. "I ll 
tell Enid I m going to the dentist s." 

What had happened to Duke? Since when did he have to 
make excuses to get out of the house? His voice had sounded so 
tired, so ill. 

He came over to the house for a few minutes, saw Tony, and 
visited with Harry, Edith, and myself. He looked pale, unhappy. 
"Oh, Duke," I said impulsively, "what are you doing here? Come 
to America with us." 

"I only wish I might," he said, "but that is impossible. My 
place is in England, but I am too ill to go there now." 

Harry cut in. "Thelma leaves day after tomorrow, Duke. I m 
giving a luncheon for her at a Ijttle pub in Monte Carlo. Why 


don t you join us?" Duke mumbled that it would not be easy to 
get away, then finally promised to come. 

The day we left for Monte Carlo, Davis, Duke s chauffeur, 
called up. "Lord Furness is terribly sorry. He cannot come. It 
is impossible for him to get out." 

I felt very sad. So did Tony. We went to the little restaurant, 
about twelve of us, including Tony. When we returned to the 
H6tel de Paris where I had left our luggage, I saw Davis standing 
outside near Duke s car. 

"Is Lord Furness here?" I asked. 

"Yes, His Lordship is in the hotel. He wants to see you." 

I hurried in. Duke was waiting in a little private sitting room. 
I ve never seen a man look so frail, so mixed up, so ill. I cried, 
"Oh, Duke, if I could only put you in my pocket and take you 

Tears spilled down his cheeks. "If you only could, Thelma," 
he said sadly. 

Tony and I never saw him again. 

Daisy Fellowes had offered her yacht, the Sister Anne, to take 
Duke and Enid across, as well as Davis, the chauffeur. Enid 
refused to let Duke go on the grounds that he, as a prominent 
shipping magnate, would be bait for the German submarines. 
However, Davis did go, and made it safely to England. 

Tony and I crossed the Atlantic safely. 

On my arrival in New York, Gloria and I decided to make 
our home in Beverly Hills, California. 

We were about to leave the house one day when Wann, 
Gloria s maid, handed me a cable. It was from Duke s office. Dick 
was reported missing in action. Good God! I thought, not Dick, 
too! The memory of the happiness and understanding those dear 
children Averill and Dick had brought to my brief married 
life surged back to me. And now they were both gone! 



The report from Dick s regiment, though detailed, left doubt 
as to whether Dick was killed or taken prisoner by the Germans. 
He had been in command from May 17 at Arras. His battalion 
formed part of the garrison. Taking the offensive, he led his 
platoon in surprise attacks on the enemy. On the twenty-third of 
May, while heading a patrol, he was wounded, but insisted upon 
remaining at the front instead of going along with other 
wounded to a field hospital in the rear. The enemy advanced. 
Dick, in spite of his injuries, went forward with three carriers to 
the enemy lines. All three carriers were hit. Dick fought on, 
forcing the Germans to retreat. His desperate fighting saved not 
only British supplies and equipment but the lives of many. 
Following the German withdrawal, what was left of his regi 
ment returned to gather up its dead. Neither Dick s body nor 
his identification tag was ever found. 

Duke exhausted every avenue of search to find out whether 
Dick had been killed or captured. He clung to the hope that 
Dick might have lost his memory, or was being held in a Nazi 
prison camp and would reappear when the war ended. 

Dick was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. 

In his book, Welsh Guards at War, E. F. Ellis has this to say 
of Dick: 

A section of the Carrier Platoon under Lieutenant the Honorable 
Christopher Furness was with the column and some light tanks [at 
Arras]. Furness (who had been wounded earlier that night) told the 
quartermaster that he must turn the transport and get away quickly. 
I explained that it was impossible to turn quickly, in that narrow 
road, forty vehicles including three-tonners. The mist was rising. 
We should be seen by the enemy and it had been impressed on us 
that the Germans were not to know that Arras was being evacuated. 
Furness replied, "Don t worry about Jerry. I ll go shoot him up and 
keep him busy while you turn and get out." 



This remark was so characteristic of Dick. To the very end 
life for him was a great adventure, a "jolly good show." 

But to return to Duke what would the news of Dick s fate do 
to him? How would he take it? Halfway across America I got 
the tragic answer. We had driven into Albuquerque, signed the 
register at The Fonda, and got to our rooms, when my phone 
began ringing. The United Press calling; the Associated Press 
calling; the local papers calling. Did I know that Lord Furness 
was dead? I sat there on the edge of my bed, gripping the phone, 
trying to be composed, to speak calmly when die ache in my 
heart was so great I could hardly stand it. I d had so many shocks 
Averill, the war, Dick, and now Duke. 

That evening I walked out alone. I thought of Duke as I had 
first seen him, as I had last seen him. It all seemed far away and 
long ago. It was a cool, moonlit night. In the distance loomed 
dark blue snowcapped peaks. I kept on walking until I came to 
the edge of the desert. For a long time I stood there, then turned 
back to the hotel. The mountains and stars had eased my sorrow. 

The next blow was Burrough Court. It was burned to the 
ground accidentally while the Canadian Air Force was billeted 
there. When the airmen on guard saw the house going up in 
flames, they got panicky. It is odd what the excitement of a fire 
does to human thinking, and the way it impels people to make 
quick and irrational choices of objects to be saved. There were 
no firemen, and the soldiers, trying to be helpful, saved what 
they thought most valuable. They ignored the pictures; they 
ignored the family treasures and the silver and linens; instead, 
they saved the grand piano. One soldier, observing that every 
thing would be lost, walked over to the piano, now sitting on the 
lawn. Casually he sat down and played, "I Don t Want to Set 
the World on Fire." 

Mr. Wilson, the trustee of Duke s estate, cabled me, "Sorry to 
say property destroyed by fire. You haven t got even an um- 



brella left." I suppose he thought he was very funny. I cabled 
back: "I never owned one." 

Burrough Court was gone. But somehow it no longer mattered. 
A house means little when it no longer belongs with those we 
love. Averill, Dick, and Duke were gone; they lived now only 
in my heart and my memory. And this and Tony were all that 
now mattered. 

Among the many friends Gloria and I saw again in California 
were June and Edward Hillmans, who live in Montecito, a town 
ship near Santa Barbara. June was the Marilyn Miller of the 
English stage; she still has beauty, the charm and grace for which 
she was famous at the height of her career. She was formerly 
married to Lord Inverclyde. The nicest thing I can say about 
Eddie and there are many is that when I think of friendship, 
I think of him. 

When I was back in London, in 1946, Tony was summoned 
to Buckingham Palace to receive, at the King s hands, the Vic 
toria Cross posthumously awarded to Dick. He asked me to 
accompany him. 

On a Tuesday morning the day and time officially set aside 
for Investitures Tony and I entered the Grand Hall of the 
Palace. Some fifty or sixty people who were also to receive dec 
orations were already seated. Because of the rank of Dick s 
decoration, the V.C., we were ushered to the front row. Colonel 
Sir Piers Legh, the Master of the Household, then addressed us, 
instructing us in the procedure. I knew Piers Legh well; he had 
been one of the Prince s aides-de-camp, and had naturally been 
with us on many occasions. 

When Piers Legh finished his address, he came over to me and 
asked me to go into the garden with him. "I have a message for 
you from the King," he said. 

I was startled. And as I followed him into the garden, I was 
more than a little nervous. I had not talked with the King since 


his brother s abdication. I did not know how he felt about me at 
this time and in the back part of my mind I even believed that 
he might resent me for the unwitting part I played in the events 
that led to the abdication. 

When we were alone, Piers said, "The King has asked me to 
tell you that he and the Queen would so have liked to have you 
and Tony for a glass of sherry after the Presentations. But the 
press are all about and he was afraid singling you out might 
cause talk. He hoped you would understand." 

I was touched that the King had taken the trouble to send a 
message to me and I replied, "Of course I understand. Will you 
tell Their Majesties how touched I am at their gracious thought." 

Later, as I curtsied to the King, he said, "Thelma, did you get 
my message?" 

I was deeply moved. It did not require imagination to picture 
the brother standing in his place. I contented myself with saying, 
"Thank you, sir." Then I saw the Victoria Cross in Tony s hand. 
And suddenly I realized that all that was left of a precious part 
of my life, aU that was left of years of friendship and happiness, 
was just a cross in my son s hand. 

The reporters, as the King had surmised, were avidly searching 
for any tidbit they could enlarge into gossip. They had observed 
the King talking to me; and when Tony and I left Buckingham 
Palace, they rushed up to me. "What did the King say?" 

"He said that it was nice to see me again," I answered and 
walked away. 

At a party at Dorothy di Frasso s I met Edmund Lowe. Ed 
mund greeted me with the line, "Where have you been all my 
life?" I quipped back as brightly, "Looking for you." And this 
corn-fed dialogue started one of the happiest and gayest friend 
ships I have known. 

Edmund s chosen profession was the right one for him. He was 



a born actor; and he was a very fine and famous one. His charac 
terization of Sergeant Quirt in What Price Glory? has remained 
in the memory of thousands of movie-goers as have many of 
the other roles he has played on Broadway and on the screen. He 
is a graduate of Santa Clara College in California. His enthusiasm 
for his religion is as wholehearted as is his love for baseball and 
women, and his knowledge of all three could qualify him for 
"The $64,000 Question." His unbounded enthusiasm for every 
thing that interested him was catching. In his company I, too, 
became a baseball fan. 

David Butler, the famous motion-picture director, and his 
wife, Elsie, lifelong friends of Edmund s and later to become 
mine as well were also baseball fans. Together we made a gay 
and happy foursome. 



Little Gloria Marries 


I had not been on the West Coast more than a year when litde 
Gloria called me and said, to my amazement, "Mummy, I want 
to come and live with you for good." Gloria was then sixteen. 
I said to her, "Now come, Gloria, this is just a little more com 
plicated than the business of your visiting me at your discre 
tion. " 

"Oh, no," Gloria answered. "I ve already talked about this 
with Auntie Ger . . , and everything can be arranged." 

I said, "I think I had better come to New York and we can 
talk this over." 

I went to New York. Gloria announced that she was fed up 
with "Auntie Ger," and that she should have stayed with me all 
along. Could I do something? I explained that there was not 
much that I could do. "It s up to you to act," I said. "If you 
really want to come and live with me, you will have to make a 
court application through Mr. Crocker." 

Gloria went to see him. There was no opposition. In my opin 
ion, Mrs. Whitney was by then so fed up with Gloria, and with 
the whole continuing mess, that she was only too glad to wash 
her hands of her responsibility. After all, the original court order 
was even harder on her than it was on me; I had to be in New 
York every weekend, but she had to be there the whole week. 
If she ever dared set a foot out of the state during the days she 


had Gloria in charge, I could have said, "Oh, if the Court thought 
I was neglecting the child, look at her!" Mrs. Whitney was well 
aware of this possibility; every time she really wanted to go any 
where, she first had about ten doctors sign statements claiming 
that she was practically dying, and that the trip was necessary 
for her health. 

Gloria thus finally came to live with me. California became 
her home. 

Meanwhile, Gloria had a series of adolescent "loves." Gloria 
had many "loves." She was first in love with Geoffrey Jones, 
whose home was in New York. This was the first "love of my 
life," and she was going to "kill herself" if she didn t marry him. 
When she came to live with me in California, Jeff was her "dream 
boat," the "man of my dreams." She was going to marry Jeff as 
soon as he graduated from Princeton. Gloria described him as 
the quintessence of everything that was wonderful. 

Gloria had a telephone installed in her bathroom. Lying in 
luxury in her bubble bath, she would call her friends in New 
York or Princeton and talk for hours. In one month alone she 
had a phone bill of $900. 

Time passed. One night Gloria came into my room and an 
nounced that she wanted to get into bed with me. In my bed, in 
the dark, she said, "Mummy, I m not in love with Jeff any more 
I m in love with Van Heflin, and I m going to marry him." This 
was an unexpected switch. I don t know what happened here, 
but Van Heflin apparently did not have long staying powers as 
Gloria s "love of my life." A month or so later Gloria asked me 
to meet Howard Hughes; she was in love with him and going to 
marry him. I asked her if this was serious; she insisted that it was, 
and informed me that Howard Hughes was coming to see me that 

Howard Hughes arrived. Incidentally, I found him a rather 
odd man: he never lets go of his hat. The butler made the usual 
effort to take a visitor s hat, but he said, "Oh, no! " and strode into 


the drawing room with his hat firmly in his hands. He continued 
to hold it while we talked. Howard Hughes is a brilliant man with 
an extraordinary personality, but his mannerisms are exceedingly 
strange. There is an old Russian folk tale about a magician whose 
soul is contained in an egg; Howard behaves as though his were 
boxed in his hat. 

He and I talked of various things. He explained that the details 
of their wedding plans were entirely up to Gloria. Whatever she 
wanted was agreeable to him. 

After Howard left, I asked Gloria if she had written Mrs. 
Whitney about her engagement. Gloria told me that she had. 
She added that Howard intended to be in New York in a few 
days, and that she would like to be there at the same rime, to 
introduce him to "Auntie Ger." 

"Please, Mummy," she said, "come with me." 

Two days later Gloria and I, together with Gloria s phonograph 
without which at this time she never traveled a half-dozen 
bags, and a vast collection of records, were on our way to 
New York by plane. 

Gloria immediately told Mrs. Whitney the happy tidings. I 
never learned what Mrs. Whitney thought of the marriage, be 
cause two days later Gloria suddenly rushed up to me at our 
apartment at the hotel and announced that it was important for 
her to go to Chicago at once, "Why?" I asked. "Isn t Howard 
expected here any day now? Have his plans been changed?" 

Gloria smiled, as if to imply that nothing in life was as simple 
and clear cut as it seemed. "Oh, no," she said, "this has nothing 
to do with Howard Hughes. I want to go to Chicago to see Pat 
di Cicco." 

There are limits to the understanding even of a worldly and 
sympathetic mother. "What does Pat have to do with all this?" 
I asked. All I knew about Pat was that he was a pleasant young 
man who in one vague way or another seemed to be running 
interference for Hughes. "I don t understand," I continued. "I 



thought you were unofficially engaged to Howard Hughes. Has 
the wind suddenly changed? Is it Pat di Cicco you are now in 
love with?" 

"The more I think of it," Gloria answered, "the more I am 
convinced that I m in love with Pat." 

For once I put my foot down. "You can t possibly go traipsing 
off to Chicago after any man," I said to her. "You had better wait 
and see what happens." 

In any event, Howard Hughes came to New York. I have no 
idea what each said to the other, or how serious this engagement 
had ever been in Howard Hughes mind, but at this moment the 
whole thing blew up. 

As I recall, a day or so later Pat di Cicco arrived in New York, 
and from then on I saw practically nothing of Gloria; she was 
always out. Finally, she told me she was going to marry Pat. 
Again I said to her, "You d better tell your aunt." Gloria did. 
She went to Mrs. Whitney and told her she was going to marry 
Pat di Cicco. Apparently all hell broke loose, because Gloria 
came dashing to my room and said, "Mummy, I want to go right 
back to California!" 

"What happened?" I asked. 

"Well, Auntie Ger doesn t approve at all. But I don t care what 
she says. After all, you are my mother. You have the right to let 
me marry him if I want to. I m going to marry him, anyway, and 
I d like to be married in your house. Besides, I never want to see 
Auntie Ger again." 

I then saw Frank Crocker, Mrs. Whitney s lawyer. Mr. 
Crocker said Mrs. Whitney under no circumstances would ap 
prove of this marriage, and that if Gloria married Pat, Mrs. 
Whitney would "wash her hands of Gloria once and for all." 
If I approved, Mr. Crocker continued, that was my own affair. 

The first time I met Pat was at lunch, without Gloria. He was 
very tall, very good-looking a charming man. He talked quite 
sensibly. "After all," he said, "I am several years older than 



Gloria* I don t think this marriage is wise. I am very much in 
love with Gloria, and I think she is very much in love with me, 
but she is very young and I don t think she realizes what marriage 
really is. I think it would be better if we waited at least six 
months to see how things work out." He also pointed out a very 
significant psychological fact: that although he was quite capable 
of supporting Gloria, he could not possibly compete with 
Gloria s money, and that this difference in income would prob 
ably be a drawback to a successful marriage. 

I agreed with Pat. I thought his attitude was quite sensible. I 
felt that his thinking was thoroughly honest and thoroughly 
realistic; I had spent seventeen years competing with Gloria s 
money, and I knew what an insidious, destructive force it 
could be. 

It was decided between them, at first, that their marriage 
should wait. But Gloria, on second thought, declared that she 
would not hold up this marriage for anything; nothing was more 
important. It was then agreed that they would be married in 
December; she was to be eighteen in February. 

The marriage took place in Santa Barbara. Why in heaven s 
name Gloria insisted on Santa Barbara when we lived in Beverly 
Hills I will never know; possibly she thought a wedding there 
would be more romantic, with the mission as a stage prop and 
the ocean nearby, pounding on the rocks. But at any rate all the 
guests had to drive up the coast a good one hundred and twenty 
miles. I had asked my brother Harry to give Gloria away, but 
when he heard that Gloria had insisted that her nurse, Keislich, 
was to be there, he refused point-blank even to attend the 
wedding. Harry had not forgotten or forgiven any of the wit 
nesses against me at the trial. I had not seen the nurse since the 
day Judge Carew discharged her, but I did not want to mar any 
part of Gloria s happiness on her wedding day, so I resolutely put 
my own feelings aside. 

After the ceremony a reception was held at my house on 



Maple Drive. All ended well except for one minor note: we were 
held up. Veneta Oakie, Jack Oakie s wife, Edmund Lowe, Melba 
Meredith, Thelma, and I were gaily discussing the wedding and 
the reception. All the other guests had left. Suddenly a George 
Raft gangster type of man strode into the living room and, at 
gun point, said "This is a stickup. Fork it over." Thelma and I 
got up simultaneously and faced him, hoping that Veneta Oakie, 
who had on a fortune in jewels, would use the moment to hide 
them in the sofa cushions. Pointing at me, the man said gruffly, 
"Lady, hand over that diamond brooch." As I did so, I noticed 
Thelma giving Edmund Lowe a swift and surreptitious kick. I 
could almost read her mind. I knew she was hoping that Edmund 
would not take this particular moment to play the big hero. 

"You know this house is surrounded by detectives," I said 
to the robber. He took me at my word and bolted, taking with 
him nothing more than my diamond brooch, which was re 
covered and returned to me by the New York police months 

A few months after their wedding war broke out. Pat enlisted, 
and in time was sent to Officers Training Camp in Manhattan, 
Kansas. Gloria went with him and did her best to set up house 
keeping as a soldier s wife. It must have been an incongruous 
picture, Gloria, who had never in her life been without a retinue 
of nurses, maids, chauffeurs, and detectives much less put her 
hand to a potnow cooking, sewing, cleaning, and otherwise 
keeping house like any Saturday Evening Post American girl. 
Here was a solid, though banal, movie scenario: the little rich 
girl who discovers that love is not something to be bought and 
that rough hands sometimes pull hardest on the heartstrings. But 
I suspect that Gloria only enjoyed play-acting the simple life; 
as a novelty it was fun. Marie Antoinette for a single afternoon 
enjoyed the role of a milkmaid. 

A short time later Pat came down with a streptococcus infec 
tion in the blood stream. He was brought back to New York for 



treatment. Gloria immediately called me in California. "Pat," she 
said, "is dying. Please, Mummy, come to me." I flew East at once 
to be with her. I was certain that Pat s condition was hopeless; 
only a few years before Consuelo s husband, Benny Thaw, had 
died from the same type of infection streptococcic septicemia. 

About three weeks after I arrived in New York, Pat passed 
the critical stage of his illness; penicillin and other wonder drugs 
had done their work. Gloria was radiant. She seemed to be going 
through a change, deepening, maturing. As soon as she heard the 
good news, she dashed to Pat s side, at the same time asking me 
to see her grandmother and tell her, I really believe that, in her 
new happiness, or new maturity, or reasonable facsimile of each, 
Gloria wanted to bring about a rapprochement between my 
mother and me. For at that time, even though Mamma and I 
were on speaking terms, the scars of the trial were still on me. 

During the next three years, everything between Gloria and 
me was perfect. I was so pleased and proud when in some articles 
she was writing for the New York Journal- American she referred 
to me affectionately as "the most beautiful woman in the world." 
We were all great friends Gloria, Pat, and I. But I also knew that 
Mamma was not at all pleased by the understanding that seemed 
now to exist between Gloria and me. Mamma never approved of 
Pat, whom she called, in reference to his father s business, "the 
broccoli king." Her fear of losing an infinitesimal part of Gloria s 
love was pathological. 

On my part there was not only a resentment of Mamma be 
cause of what she had done, but a very real and persistent fear 
of what she still might do. I had only to close my eyes to see again 
the dreadful scenes at court, to see Mamma frantically clutching 
at her crucifix and screaming to the world the sordid details of 
her daughter s "shame." Her whole disordered mind, with its 
weird fantasies and its caricatures of piety, centered in a single, 
obsessive drive: to keep Gloria and me apart. 

Nevertheless, I went to 14 East Sixtieth Street, where my 



mother had lived since 1932. Difficult as this visit might be, I was 
determined to fulfil my obligations both as a mother and as a 
daughter. It gives me an odd feeling to write these words. Why 
should a woman who once had loved her mother, and who 
always had loved her daughter, find life so patterning itself 
around her that when she does what should be a normal, instinc 
tive thing, she must say, in all sincerity, "fulfil my obligations"? 
I, who have wanted all my life only to love and be loved, ended 
as a courtier, currying favor with my own mother and my own 

Mamma was not at home. I wrote a note, telling her the news 
about Pat; then, at loose ends, I had half a mind to go to the Plaza 
Theater and see a movie. But as I walked, I found myself in front 
of the Chalom Art Gallery; I remembered Maurice Chalom from 
Paris; I had not seen him for years. Acting on a sudden impulse, 
I went into the gallery and asked for Maurice. Little did I suspect 
that this impulse was to open a new, warm chapter in my life. 

Maurice was not handsome or even good-looking. He was 
short, as American men go. He had been badly wounded, a head 
wound, in the war of 1914, and because of this he wore a black 
velvet patch over his right eye. The patch was not unattractive 
on the contrary, it gave him an air of "the man of distinction." 
He spoke English well, although with a very strong accent. 

Over a cocktail Maurice and I reminisced on the past. I told 
him about Pat. Time flew. He asked me to dine with him that 
night but naturally I wanted to get back to Gloria, so, after 
promising to be with him the following night, I went home. 

Upon my arrival, Orlando, Gloria s butler, told me Mrs. di 
Cicco had phoned to say that she was staying at the hospital for 
a bite of dinner with Pat. Here I was alone again. Remembering 
Maurice s invitation, I called him. He was delighted. I went up 
to my room and asked Wann to put out my new blue Ceil Chap 
man evening dress. 



That night we dined at Le Pavilion. The dinner was the first 
of many, many happy dinners we were to have. 

The next morning Gloria was sitting on my bed, talking about 
Pat while I was having my breakfast, when the most gigantic 
plant of mimosa was brought in. It took our breath away. 

"Well," said Gloria, "what gives? What have you been hiding 
from me?" Handing me the card, she added, "Who s the dream 

"Really, Gloria," I said, laughing, "what expressions! I can 
hardly understand you. The flowers are from an old friend I 
dined with last night." 

Cutting me short with a hug and an "Oh, yeah?" she left me 
to my mimosa. 

People have often asked me why I have never remarried. There 
are a number of reasons. After the trial my situation became 
awkward. Because, much as I might have been tempted to fall in 
love, what man who called himself a man would accept a life 
of court-supervised weekends and the month of July when I 
was legally bound to be a combination of real mother, proxy 
mother, nursemaid, and companion, And whatever I might have 
done spontaneously could have been used against me to prove 
that I was not a fit mother for my own daughter. Everything 
snowballed to curtail what might have been the normal in 
clinations of a young woman. By the time Gloria had grown 
up and married, it was too late. I had lived so long alone that it 
was difficult for me to conceive of marriage. I had more or 
less made up my mind that I would never remarry; I thought 
of myself as too set in my ways. This was 1944, and I was forty. 



Spanish Interlude 


London had a charity, sponsored in times past by the Prince of 
WalesThe League of Mercy. Actually it was a kind of small- 
scale united hospital fund; its purpose was to provide whatever 
facilities the hospitals might require in emergencies. Each year 
The League of Mercy gave a ball. Although well supported by 
society, the ball was never proved very profitable. By the rime 
the costs of a ballroom at the Savoy or the Dorchester, and the 
costs of printing, catering, and entertainment, had been deducted, 
the net amount raised was deplorably small, about ^800. 

Two years before my ominous last weekend at the Fort I had 
the bright idea of getting a moving picture then being made in 
England and showing it at a gala preview, thus collecting a really 
substantial sum for The League of Mercy. The picture was 
Lily Christine, written by Michael Arlen. Beautiful Corinne 
Griffith, whom I remembered with such affection from my 
Hollywood days, was the star. We had a meeting of the organiz 
ing committee at York House, St. James s Palace, which the 
Prince had kindly lent us for the occasion, I believe this was the 
first time York House had ever been used for such a purpose. I 
got the management of the Plaza Theater to give us the use of the 
theater at midnight after the regular showing. Our first meeting 
was a huge success. There were some ninety-two seats in the 
Royal Circle, which I sold at ten guineas a seat. When I found 


that all the seats there had been sold, I kept right on selling. My 
secretary was frantic. "Don t worry/ I whispered, "I will think 
of something." Later, I telephoned the Prince and asked him if 
he would mind very much if we made the balcony into the 
Royal Circle. It must have been the first time royalty sat under 
the rafters. 

The Hungarian Restaurant generously donated after-theater 
suppers. I got the big wine merchants of London to donate 
champagne. And by the time The League of Mercy party and 
parties ended which was around four in the morning we had 
made 1 1,000 net, or about $55,000. 

The following year I was able to repeat the procedure. This 
time the feature was a newsreel anthology I assembled of all the 
interesting newsreel movies made of the Prince of Wales includ 
ing pictures I had shot during the Prince s lion hunt in Africa. 
I also arranged to have the newsreel cameramen take pictures of 
the members of the audience as they entered the theater. These 
were developed while the main feature was on, then put on the 
screen before the audience left the house. To make this possible, 
I had to get the cooperation of the police department, which 
waived all traffic restrictions to let the newsreel people get to the 
laboratories and back in time. This turned out to be a surprise 
and a great success, as most of the audience had never seen them 
selves on the screen. 

This time we greatly increased our earnings of the previous 
year: we netted around 16,000. 

Naturally, I was delighted over my success as an entrepre 
neur. I thought of myself as Little Miss Fix-It. And for the coin 
ing season I planned an even more ambitious undertaking. I 
would produce a picture from beginning to end. My idea was to 
show the dramatic history of a five-pound note, as it passed from 
hand to hand. There would be a series of episodes; and I planned 
to have each developed, in a distinctive way, by a well-known 
writer-director-star. This was to be a gigantic project. 


After my break with the Prince, however, the whole plan 
slipped from my mind; I was too full of my own problems to 
think about motion-picture production. 

One night, while I was in Paris, I suddenly remembered with 
horror that I had not done anything about The League of Mercy. 
Immediately I put a call through to the Prince in London to ask 
him if he would get somebody else to take my place. I explained 
the situation to him. To my surprise, I found that the Prince had 
abandoned all his customary warmth and courtesy. He was at 
this moment an official prince, talking officially. "As far as I am 
concerned," he informed me, "I have not the slightest interest in 
who puts this performance on, nor am I in the least concerned 
with how it is done." 

I suddenly saw red. "Sir," I said, "I have put a tremendous lot 
of work into this project. And I m now in a very embarrassing 
position, because I ve asked, in your name, Sir, for all the co 
operation which has been promised. I suppose the King can do 
no wrong. I have never hung up on anybody before, but I m go 
ing to do so now. Good-by!" Then I banged down the receiver. 

At that precise moment Aly Khan walked into my room. My 
hand was still on the telephone. "Come, Aly," I said, "we re going 
to Spain." 

I don t know what made me think of Spain, but I wanted to go 
somewhere quickly. And I knew Aly part of his attraction was 
that he was one of the few men in the world ready to do anything 
anywhere, any time. He had no ties, and he was adventurous. 
My gesture at this moment was one of defiance more than any 
thing else, and I m sure Aly knew it. 

Aly was always untroubled. He gave me the impression that 
he thought himself tops the best rider, the best dancer, the most 
attractive man on the international scene. Hence he took every 
thing in stride. 

The following morning, accompanied by his valet and my 
maid, we motored to Barcelona. Aly drove, sometimes pushing 


the speedometer on his high-speed car above one hundred miles 
an hour. Once we narrowly skidded away from death. But I was 
fascinated both with the speed and with Aly. This was the escape 
I needed. I made up my mind that I was not going to indulge my 
self in that delicious, if somewhat foolish, luxury of self-pity. I 
was going to live. And Aly was the ideal person with whom to 
do all this. He was gay, attentive, impetuous, jealous. There is in 
Aly, however, a strong Eastern quality that is not realized except 
by women who have known him well. His ways of thinking, his 
desires are, in his mind, unquestionably "right" where women 
are concerned. He makes demands that he expects to have un- 
questioningly accepted. I don t mean to imply that he treats 
women as slaves; I have in mind only what I believe to be an 
Oriental assumption that there is an inherent and unalienable 
superiority of the male. 

We spent several exciting, tempestuous days together in Bar 
celona, then we went on to Seville. We arrived there during 
festival week, a time that fitted well with my mood; I, too, was 
festive I felt like Carmen, just after her moody Don Jos6 had 
been replaced by the toreador. Aly made a good Escamillo. Un 
fortunately, a day or so after we were encamped in Seville Aly 
received a cable saying that his grandmother in Persia was dying. 
He had to leave Seville, taking care, however, first to engage for 
me a suitable "guide." Whether this gesture was an expression of 
thoughtfulness or of jealousy was never quite clear to me. Was 
this to be a guide, or a guard? I thought my Spanish quite ade 

Fortunately, as it turned out, Aly s grandmother did not die; 
he rejoined me the next week in London. And from then on we 
were inseparable. We flew to Paris, Ireland, Deauville; and we 
went together to every important race meet on the Continent. 

One night in London Aly gave a ball at Claridge s. At about 
two in the morning I was called to the telephone. To my surprise, 
the voice was Gloria s; she was calling from New York. She 



explained that she was having trouble with Mamma and with 
Mrs. Whitney about little Gloria and that she needed me at once. 
Would I come? "Of course/ I said. Til be on the next ship." 
I quickly called my house, told my maid to pack whatever she 
thought I needed, then to take the boat train to Southampton 
and meet me on board. I was having such a wonderful rime at 
the party that I stayed on. Then, stiU in evening dress, I motored 
to Southampton, met Elise, and was on my way to America. 

I stayed with Gloria only a few weeks, then sailed back to 
London. That summer I rented Aly Khan s villa at Deauville. I 
had as my first house guests Aly, of course; Gloria, who came 
over in the middle of the summer; Sir Hugh Seely; Chris Stobart 
and her husband. My son Tony was also there. With the house 
I took over Aly s servants, all of whom, with the exception of 
the cook, were Persians. Wann, Gloria s maid, as I remember, 
was terribly afraid of the Oriental contingent. This fear, of 
course, was altogether without basis; the Persian servants were 
friendly, courteous, and extremely competent. 

The summer passed quickly. It was a gay, exciting time, filled 
with varied and delightful moments. We spent our mornings on 
the beach, our evenings entertaining and being entertained, or 
gambling at the Casino. At the Deauville Sales Aly went so far 
as to buy me a horse, a gesture which officially entered me in the 
arcana of the elect. The gesture, I m afraid, was an empty one, 
although certainly charming and sentimental; at this time I was 
in no position to stable a horse the hotels I stopped in were no 
longer inns on a post road. I reluctantly had to give him back 
to Aly. 

It is not easy, in retrospect, to disentangle all the subtle emo 
tional drives which made me turn to and from Aly; nor do I 
think, at this time, that it is necessary. I suppose the crux of the 
matter is that I was never really in love with him. 

As the summer came to a close, I returned to America. And 
little by little Aly and I drifted apart. 



After Gloria s case ended, I remained with her in New York 
for some time, then returned to my house in London. It was not 
long after this that King George V died, and the Prince of Wales 
became Edward VIIL Eleven months later the world was rocked 
by the news that the new King had abdicated to marry, as he 
put it, "the woman I love." I was shocked as were millions of 

I had thought, as many did, that because the Prince of Wales 
was only Prince of Wales, without actual authority, and because 
King George V had a very strong upper hand over his family, 
his latent qualities were suppressed. And I assumed that when he 
acquired his royal authority he would use it dynamically and 
progressivelyto the best interests of England and the whole 
world. Or perhaps he really never wanted to be king. 

It is my belief that at this time the new King made the celeb 
rity s fatal mistake of believing his own publicity. He had been 
presented to the world as England s Ambassador-at-Large. He 
had been the Prince Charming of the Empire, a man everybody 
loved. And, as Prince of Wales, he fulfilled successfully the re 
quirements of this image. But when he became King, he believed 
that he was so popular, so powerful, so firmly supported by the 
people that he could make them accept him on his own terms. It 
seems to me that he should have known that the British Empire 
could not and would not accept as their King a man who delib 
erately flouted the most deeply rooted traditions of Church and 



The Maestro 


One day when little Gloria and I were both in New York, she 
called me. 

"Mummy, darling," she said, "I have to see you at once. Some 
thing very important has happened. Can I come over?" 

On arrival her first words to me were, "Mummy, I m divorcing 
Pat." I was stunned. I had always thought that this was such a 
happy marriage. In nothing that she had ever said was there any 
hint of a disagreement between them. "Oh, darling," I said, "are 
you quite sure that this is what you want to do?" Her answer 
was "Yes." I asked her if there was anyone else. "No," she 
said, "there s no one else." I did not press her for details. It 
seems strange, I know, that a mother should be so fearful of ask 
ing anything that might trigger an emotional outburst. But the 
psychological fact, no matter how you treat it, is that this was 
the case; I had had enough emotional wound stripes, and I moved, 
now, as if I were walking on eggs, fearful that any questioning 
on my part might raise a barrier and again close her heart to me. 

About two months later I had a telephone call from Mrs. 
Marcus, the mother of Carol Saroyan, who was then the wife, 
or ex-wife, of the playwright and one of Gloria s close friends. 
Mrs. Marcus said that she was giving a dinner dance at her Park 
Avenue apartment and asked if I would come. For the moment 
I was off balance; I hardly knew Mrs. Marcus. I told her I was 


terribly sorry, but I had a previous engagement. I was dining that 
night with Maurice Chalom. 

About half an hour later Gloria called me in great excitement. 
"Oh, Mummy," she asked, "didn t Mrs. Marcus call you?" 

"Yes, she did," I said. "I m so sorry I can t go to her party." 

"Oh, but you must," Gloria insisted "This is the most impor 
tant thing in my life. I ve got a wonderful surprise for you." 

"I love surprises. Come over and tell me about it." 

"I can t." Gloria seemed ecstatic. "I can t show you the sur 
priseexcept at that party. You must come." 

"But, Gloria," I explained, "this is a little awkward because I 
refused Mrs. Marcus invitation only half an hour ago." 

"Please, Mummy," Gloria said breathlessly, "you must fix it 
up in some way. You must come!" 

I told Gloria that if she really wanted me at the party that 
much, I would find a way of arranging matters diplomatically. 
First I called Maurice Chalom and explained the situation to him. 
We had planned to dine quietly in some little restaurant, and 
later to go to a movie. I asked Maurice if he minded changing 
the plans and going to the Marcus after dinner. He said he d be 
delighted to go. 

I then called Mrs. Marcus. I told her that I had talked with 
Gloria, that Gloria was most eager that I should be at the party, 
and that I was, of course, eager to come, but that I did have this 
dinner engagement which I couldn t break. Would she mind if 
I came after dinner and brought Maurice Chalom? 

Naturally, Mrs. Marcus said that she would be delighted. 

So, instead of dining quietly in a little French restaurant that 
we adored, we wound up at the Colony. Around eleven we 
arrived at the party. Gloria met us at the door. 

"Oh, Mummy darling," she bubbled, "I m so glad you ve 
come! You look beautiful! Now wait till you see... you re 
going to die when you see my surprise." 

I was impatient. "Where is it?" I asked. "Show me." 



"Oh," she said, "it hasn t arrived yet." 

Gloria conducted us to one of Mrs. Marcus smaller rooms and 
we sat down. Next to us was Pat di Cicco s niece. We all talked, 
more or less casually. Meanwhile, I tried to get Gloria to tell me 
what the "surprise" was. I couldn t wait. 

Suddenly Gloria broke off our conversation, jumped up, 
dashed across the room, and took hold of the arm of a rather 
elderly gentleman with a mane of white hair. As she reached me, 
she said, "Mummy, this is it. This is Leopold Stokowski, and I m 
going to marry him." 

When I heard this, naturally I was jolted. If I hadn t been sit 
ting down, I think I should have fallen. If Gloria had wanted to 
surprise me, she had succeeded. What I heard was unbelievable; 
she could as well have told me that she had just invented anti- 
gravity, or that she was going to live in a tree. I thought that the 
surprise would be Pat and the news that he and she had made up. 
At any rate, with Pat di Cicco s niece listening to this conversa 
tion, she explained that as soon as she got her divorce from Pat 
she was going to marry Stokowski. The "Maestro" stood by 
with Olympian disdain, oblivious to this chatter about marriage 
and divorce. 

Finally, when Maurice tactfully led Pat s niece off to the dance 
floor, Gloria s enthusiasm rushed out like champagne from a 
bottle just uncorked. "Isn t he wonderful, Mummy? This is the 
love of my life. I ve never really been in love before." This was 
a speech which by now was as familiar to me as the opening lines 
of Lincoln s Gettysburg Address. 

Stokowski sat down. 

At this moment, as if by prearrangement, Mrs. Marcus joined 
us, then took Gloria away. Leopold Stokowski and I were left 

"Mr. Stokowski," I said, bracing myself to face the inescapable, 
"this is a surprise." 

"Oh, yes," he replied disinterestedly. "I intend to marry 


Gloria/ From his tone you would imagine that nothing more 
serious was involved than ordering a new station wagon. You 
picked up the phone, specified the delivery date, and that was 

"I m a little confused by all this, Mr. Stokowski," I said. "Will 
you bring Gloria to tea tomorrow afternoon?" 

Stokowski got up and with brazen coldness said, "Mrs. Van- 
derbilt, it is quite unnecessary that we meet. I intend to marry 
your daughter. This is a statement of fact. I assume that you are 
still old-fashioned in your notions about such matters. I am not 
asking for her hand in marriage. I intend to marry her. It is not 
necessary for us to have any kind of meeting. 7 

"As far as I am concerned, Mr. Stokowski," I answered, "the 
arrangements will be whatever Gloria wants them to be." By 
then I was livid. I went in search of Maurice. When I found him, 
I was shaking. 

"What has happened?" he asked. 

"Don t talk to me now," I answered. "I ll cry." 

Maurice understandingly guided me to the ballroom, and I 
forced myself to dance until I had calmed down. Finally I saw 
Gloria. "Darling," I said, taking her hand, "we re leaving now. 
Call me in the morning." 

Early the next morning Gloria phoned. "Isn t it wonderful, 
Mummy?" she said, bubbling like one of the Rhine maidens in a 
Stokowski recording. "I m the happiest woman in the world!" 

"I m happy that you are happy, dear," I said, doing my best 
to hide my anxiety. "Come and see me this afternoon." 

As soon as she arrived, she told me that she was leaving for 
Reno in a few weeks to establish residence, and that as soon as 
she obtained her divorce she and Leopold would get married 
some place in Mexico. 

"Darling," I said, "do you want me to come with you?" 

"Oh, no, Mummy," Gloria said "If we both go, there will be 
nothing but publicity. The case will be rehashed all over again. 



It s going to be bad enough as it is. Anyway, you have planned 
to go to England with Thelma. As soon as we are married we 
are flying to Europe, and we can all meet there." 

"Dear, I m terribly disappointed," I said, "but I do under 

When I got to England, the first news I had was that Gloria 
had taken Carol Marcus Saroyan with her as "chaperone." Then 
I learned that Leopold Stokowski was on his way to Reno to stay 
with her in the cottage she had rented. This struck me as ludi 
crous, and a great deal more. Here she was in Reno getting a 
divorce and presumably avoiding publicity, and her future hus 
band was going to her cottage as a house guest. 

The gods, who seem to have a keen sense of humor, were 
keeping jaundiced eyes on Gloria s retreat from the press. Gloi 
had just learned to drive. And when Stokowski arrived at 
station in Reno, Gloria proudly drove to meet him. Stoko 
walked behind the car to get in on the side opposite the dri^. 
At this precise moment, with the gears in reverse, Gloria suddenly 
stepped on the gas. The car started back, bumping into Stokow 
ski and practically running over him. Naturally, there was great 
excitement. The newspapers had a field day. Headlines all over 
the country were emblazoned with the news that Gloria, in a 
frenzy of anticipation, had run down her future husband. 

Accidents seem to run in pairs. I heard that a few days 
after Stokowski moved into Gloria s house he came down with 
shingles. Again the newspapers got hold of the facts, and the 
hush-hush Gloria wanted so much was replaced by a stream of 
bulletins on the progress of Stokowski s recovery. 

Meanwhile, Gloria turned twenty-one. Simultaneously she 
acquired the legal right to administer her own money. 

To explain the significance of what follows, it is necessary to 

outline my financial position at this time. Gloria had been giving 

me $750 a month. When she had been living with me, I received 

$21,000 a year. After she married Pat I naturally did not need 



so much, nor did I want it. And it had been agreed very pleas 
antly that my income should be continued on that diminished 

I was sitting in Thelma s apartment in London a few days 
after Gloria s marriage when I got the following cable: 


I was frantic. Here I was without a penny in a desperate 
situation. I wired her back: 



Gloria replied with a terse letter in which she said there was 
nothing to reconsider, and that there was no reason why she 
should support me at all. And that was that. 

I decided to go to New York at once. The war had been over 
only a short time and it was difficult to get reservations of any 
kind. Plane seats were booked for months in advance. On all 
sides I was frustrated. Suddenly I remembered that in my youth 
I had known Juan Trippe, who had since become president of 
Pan-American Airways. Twenty years at least had passed since 
I had last seen him. Nevertheless, I wired him telling him of the 
situation I was in, and asking him if he would do what he could 
to get me on one of his planes. The following morning the Pan- 
American office in London called me, saying that they had a 
cable from Juan Trippe announcing that I was to be on the next 
plane leaving for New York. This plane, they informed me, left 
at noon in three hours. This was a wonderful gesture on Juan 
Trippe s part, and I shall never forget it. 

I arrived in New York but with no place to stay. Maurice 
Chalom had just remodeled and decorated an apartment to rent, 


and he let me have it as a temporary residence. As soon as I had 
unpacked, I tried to reach Gloria. This turned out to be a formi 
dable operation. I had her old telephone number, but in the 
interim she had had it changed, I discovered, to a new and un 
listed number. I did not know Stokowski s unlisted number. I 
called up his agents, but they would give me no information. I 
called my mother. Even she refused to give me Gloria s number. 
The door was closed wherever I turned. 

My immediate problem was survival. The only thing I owned 
that had any cash value was my diamond engagement ring. I 
went to a wholesale diamond merchant whose name I think was 
Brock. "How much will you offer me for this ring?" I asked. 
The Brock experts examined the stone and said, "Thirty thou 
sand dollars." I accepted. 

A few months after I sold the ring, an article appeared saying 
that Gloria had offered to buy it for $300,000. Somebody appar 
ently had tacked on a few zeros. My mother was very funny 
about this; she thought I had been cheated and that the diamond 
had really been worth $300,000. In fact, by the time the press 
got through with the story you would have thought that this 
was the Cullinan diamond, the Kohinoor, and the Star of India 
all rolled into one. And you would have believed that Gloria 
actually made this offer which, of course, was ridiculous. Some 
reports gave the figure as $100,000, some $150,000, and some the 
full $300,000. The price varied with the imagination of the 
writer. By the time the full force of the press was evident, the 
diamond had passed into the hands of a Mr. Jack Werst of Day 
ton, Ohio, a man whose publicity agents could be said literally 
to leave no stone unturned. 

Here is a typical item from a story by-lined by Justin Gilbert 
in the New York Daily Mirror, March 15, 1956: 

Gloria Vanderbilt Stokowski has offered as high as $100,000 for 
the 1 6 1 / 2 carat pear-shaped diamond ring her mother, Mrs. Gloria 


Morgan Vanderbik, sold to a Dayton, Ohio, gem dealer last month, 
after her daughter had cut off her $21,000 yearly allowance. 

The Minor yesterday learned exclusively that Gloria, Jr., to 
whom the ring has a great sentimental value, sent two gem brokers 
from New York and California to offer the large sum to Jack M. 
Werst, Dayton dealer, who bought the ring for $30,000 from her 

"I don t like to disappoint Gloria, but the ring isn t for sale at 
present, * Werst said, "Fin going to hold it for at least a year." . . . 
and he predicted its value would increase because large-size diamonds 
are disappearing from the market 

He told how Mrs. Vanderbilt had put out a feeler for the sale of 
the famous gem early last February. "She wanted $75,000," Werst 
said, "and I turned it down. After a few weeks of waiting she ac 
cepted an offer of $30,000 from my broker!" 

The real value of the diamond, I was later to learn, was in the 
publicity it brought Mr. Werst. It was exhibited in almost every 
city in America. It even turned up on display in the lobby of the 
Capitol Theater in New York, an advertisement, by some remote 
association, for the motion picture, King Solomon s Mines. 

A letter later written to Mr. Werst by Guy Wadsworth of the 
Dayton Journal-tier al^ and reprinted in one of Mr. Werst s 
brochures, had this proud comment to make: "You will be happy 
to know that my exhaustive research on diamonds reveals that the 
Vanderbilt diamond which you own has received more newspaper 
and magazine publicity than any other gem in the world since 
the turn of the century." 

Meanwhile, with Maurice Chalom as partner, I started a per 
fume house. Two years passed. Then one morning, while I was 
in Pennsylvania seeing a bottle manufacturer, Gloria called me 
at home. My maid took the message. 

When I got home at nine o clock that night I called Gloria. 
And as if nothing at all had ever happened over the intervening 
years, Gloria purred, "Oh, Mummy darling, Stokie" by that 



time she was calling him Stokie, not Leopold "Stokie and I are 
sitting in our little apartment ... in front of the fireplace . . . and 
we re having a drink. Wouldn t you like to come down?" 

"I m terribly tired," I said. "I have just come back from Penn 
sylvania, and I really don t feel up to getting dressed and going 
out again. Can t you come up here?" 

"Seriously, Mummy," Gloria went on, "Stokie and I really 
want to see you. He s not dressed. Can t you come here?" 

I said to myself: Here we go again! Once more I m damned if 
I do and I m damned if I don t. If I don t go there, then, later, 
Gloria will say, "Well, I asked her to come and she didn t." I 
could almost hear Stokowski saying to Gloria, "If you want to 
see your mother, let her come down here." I decided I would 
never give her a chance to say she had asked to see me and I had 
refused to meet her. So at ten o clock that night, tired as I was, 
I went to their apartment. 

The place was somewhere in the West Fifties a brownstone 
in which they had the top floor. You took the elevator as far as 
it went, then walked up a circular iron staircase to their apart 
ment, which consisted of one room and a terrace. 

I was so very happy, after these long years, to see Gloria again. 
She looked so lovely as she embraced me. We chatted for a bit, 
then, sitting me down beside her, she said, "Mummy, darling, I 
think all this money business has been very silly. Can t we work 
out some arrangement?" 

"Of course, darling. I would like to feel that I could have my 
own apartment and Wann. I m sure that $6,000 a year would be 
adequate. Don t you?" 

Gloria said nothing. 

I continued: "If you will set up a trust fund that will give me 
$500 a month for my lifetime, and which will revert to you after 
my death, we will never again have to discuss money." 

Stokowski during this conversation had said nothing. But now, 
when I had finished what I was saying, Gloria looked at him 



questioningly, as if seeking guidance. The only thing Stolcowski 
did was close his eyes. Immediately Gloria turned back to me 
and said, "I don t believe in trusts." 

I fixed my eyes on Stokowski. "Mr. Stokowski, you must 
realize that when I say a trust to revert to Gloria at my death/ 
she is risking nothing." 

Stokowski did not bother to answer. He merely looked at 
Gloria. Gloria then added, without further explanation, "I just 
don t believe in trust funds." 

This statement was ridiculous. "Listen, Gloria," I said, "if it 
weren t for a trust fund your grandfather left, neither you nor I 
would be sitting here talking about trust funds. You would have 

"No, no!" Gloria repeated, again looking at Stokowski, "I just 
don t believe in them." 

"Now, look here, Gloria! You are the one who said you 
wanted to do something about all this. We seem to be getting 
nowhere fast Suppose you talk to your lawyer. I ll talk to mine. 
Then let both lawyers meet. Let s see what arrangements the 
two of them can make." 

"Sure," Gloria agreed. "Let the lawyers work out the details." 

We talked about other things her travels, the place they had 
in Connecticut. Then I left Stokowski, still in his dressing gown, 
saw me to the elevator. 

The following morning I called Mr. Kaufman, my lawyer 
since Mr. Burkan had died, and asked him to get in touch with 
the Stokowskis lawyer. 

About six o clock that evening Mr. Kaufman called back. He 
was in such a rage he could hardly get his words out. "Wait a 
moment," I said, trying my best to calm him. "What s hap 

"Well," he said, "I ve just . . . I ve never in my life heard any 
thing like this. Mrs. Stokowslti s lawyer came to my office^ and 
sitting opposite me, said blandly, These are the instructions I 



have from Mrs. Stokowski: She is willing to give Mrs. Vander- 
bilt $6,000 a year paid monthly provided that Mrs. Vanderbilt 
will be willing to receive it if, and when, and where Mrs. 
Stokowski chooses to give it. In other words, if Mrs. Stokowski 
chooses to give it to her in China, then Mrs. Vanderbilt will have 
to move to China. " 

"This is incredible," I said. 

Mr. Kaufman continued telling me what his rejoinder had 

"In other words, what you are telling me is that Mrs. Stokowski 
proposes to hold a sword of Damocles over her mother s head?" 

And Gloria s lawyer answered, "Yes. That is exactly what she 
is doing. Those are my instructions. And if Mrs. Vanderbilt will 
not accept the money on these terms, Mrs. Stokowski will not 
give her anything." 

"I ll call Gloria up in the morning, Mr. Kaufman," I said, and 
hung up. 

When I got her on the phone her voice had lost all the warmth 
and affection of two nights before. 

"Gloria," I said, "I understand that our lawyers did not seem 
to get on very well." 

"No," Gloria said, "they didn t." 

"Well," I asked, "what are you going to do about it?" 

"My lawyer was right," Gloria answered coldly. 

"Do you mean to tell me that you told your lawyer that you 
gave him authoritative instructions to say to my lawyer that you 
want to hold a sword of Damocles over my head ... or else?" 

"You re damn right," she said. "That s exactly what I mean/ 

"I m terribly sorry, Gloria," I answered. "I think it was a 
mistake that I went to see you at all. But if this is the way you 
feel about it, don t even bother to remember that I m alive. 

A few days later Gloria called a press conference. It seemed 
to me that our money differences were our private affair, but 


Gloria considered them, like the reports of the President s health, 
matters of national and international concern. She hired a press 
agent. And he invited reporters from all the papers and wire 
services to a meeting at her apartment on Fifty-fourth Street. Sto- 
kowski was not on hand, leaving Gloria and her publicity man 
to justify her position in this mother-daughter dollar diplomacy. 

The papers came out the next day with banner headlines 
featuring the news: "Gloria says: My Mother Can Work or 

I did not hear from Gloria again for five years. At this rime 
my lawyer called me and said, "Mrs. Vanderbilt, Mrs. Stokowski, 
it seems, has instructed her bank to deposit $250 a month in 
your bank." 

"I don t want it," I answered. "I won t accept it. I think this 
is insulting." 

"Mrs. Vanderbilt, please think it over; this may be her way 
of opening the door to a better understanding. You never can 
tell what this will lead to; you d better take it." 

"Very well, then," I said, "accept it." 

Her lawyers opened an account in my name and each month 
the $250 was deposited in it. I never thanked Gloria for this 
"kindness." All during this time Thelma had been supporting me, 





In 1947, when I was in London, my twin telephoned me from 
New York saying she was going to have an operation for some 
internal disorder. I was worried and planned immediately to fly 
over. Gloria assured me that this was not necessary, as the opera 
tion was not serious. I came over, in spite of what she said. 
Meanwhile, she had the surgery; the results appeared to be 
satisfactory, and she was sent home. 

One Sunday evening, about a month later, Gloria and I were 
sitting quietly in her apartment listening to the radio. About 
halfway through the program, Gloria told me that she was 
feeling tired and not too well and that she thought she would 
go to her room and go to bed. 

Til just finish the needlework Fm doing," I told her, "then 
I ll come in and say good night." 

About half an hour later I went to Gloria s room and there I 
found her biting her hands in agony. Her hands were bleeding, 
the pillow was covered with blood. She had not wanted to worry 
me, she didn t want to call out. As this was a weekend, it was 
not easy to get a doctor immediately. Finally, after much tele 
phoning I located Gloria s doctor. He came over, gave her seda 
tives, but seemed puzzled about the cause of the pain. 

It was then long after midnight. "Doctor," I said, "I m wor 



"I am, too/ he said, "I think we should get Mrs. Vanderbilt 
to a hospital at once; and we should have a consultation with a 

The doctor sent for an ambulance to take Gloria to Harkness 
Pavilion, at the Medical Center, and arranged to have a special 
ist meet us at the hospital In the dead of night we strapped 
Gloria to a chair; the elevator in Gloria s building was too small 
to hold a stretcher. We got her to the ground floor this way, then 
transferred her to a waiting stretcher. I rode with her in the 
ambulance. Meanwhile, Gloria kept saying to me, "Darling, what 
is the matter with me? Am I going to die? I think Fm dying." 
What terrifying words to hear from a person you love, from a 
twin whose life is part of your very own. I felt as if I myself 
were dying as I repeated, over and over, "Of course not, darling! 
You re not going to die! " and other empty reassurances which 
I needed as much as Gloria. 

At the hospital a team of doctors went to work making emer 
gency examinations and taking a variety of tests. I sat through 
the long night in one of the side rooms, trembling, waiting to 
hear frightening news. 

About six o clock in the morning the consulting doctors came 
out of surgery. Their faces were grim. "I think you had better 
send for the family," one said. "There isn t much chance." 

A general feeling of numbness came over me. I was sure Gloria 
was not going to die. I wouldn t let her. This couldn t happen; 
it was unthinkable. I couldn t accept it. I would will her to live. 
But I was too numb to analyze or reason. All feeling had gone 
out of me. I went back to the apartment, had a cup of coffee, 
then called my brother Harry, who was in California. I called 
Consuelo, who was in Palm Beach. Then I called my mother. I 
asked Mamma for the telephone number of little Gloria. Mamma 
pretended she didn t know it. She must have had Gloria s num 
ber, because she talked to her practically every day. She obvi 
ously had been instructed not to give it to me. 



Finally I called a friend who worked on a newspaper and told 
her of the situation. I asked her if she could get the number for 
me. She did; it was in Connecticut. I reached Gloria and told her 
that her mother was dying, and that the doctors had asked me 
to send for the family. Gloria said she would come in at once. 
The doctors informed me that they were going to operate. 
Gloria was taken to surgery, and I was ushered into a small wait 
ing room outside. And there I sat from nine o clock on, dying 
myself by slow degrees. The hours passed. There was no word. 
And I, in my cold sweat, asked myself unreasonably why some 
doctor did not come out and let me know what was happening. 
Around eleven, little Gloria arrived looking gay and quite beauti 
ful in a very long mink coat. "What s the matter?" she asked. 

"Your mother is being operated on," I said. "I don t know 
what s happened, or what kind of an operation it is. All I can 
tell you is that it is an emergency, and she has already been in 
the operating room two hours. Oh, Gloria, dear, I am so wor 

Gloria was quiet I sat staring out the window. 
A while later Gloria broke the deadly silence. "Thelma," she 

said, "by the way, you ve been in Europe a lot recently 

Stokie and I are going there on a concert tour. What should I 
take over as far as food is concerned, and clothes? I hear they re 
all starving there. And of course Stokie must have proper food. 
Should I take canned goods and cigarettes?" 

I stood this as long as I could. Then I said, "Listen, here, 
Gloria! Your mother may be dying at this moment, and you ve 
got nothing better to do than to start worrying whether or not 
you re going to have enough to eat Really, if at this time you 
can t talk about your mother, don t talk about anything." 

About a quarter to twelve a nurse came in and announced 
that the operation had been successful and that now there was 
hope that Gloria would pull through. Until then I had held my- 


self in quite well, but now I burst into tears. Little Gloria got 
up, put on her coat, looked at her watch, said, "I have an ap 
pointment at the hairdresser," and left. 

Gloria was in the hospital three months; and during all this 
time her survival was a matter of touch and go. It appeared that 
an aftereffect of her previous operation was an abscess which, in 
turn, had caused peritonitis. Yet in this whole desperate period 
there was no further word from little Gloria not even a phone 

The doctors bills and the hospital bills were, of course, enor 
mous. I used all the money I had, but my money came from 
England, and it was extremely difficult to get any but a token 
amount out of Great Britain. I went to my mother and asked her 
if she could help me. She did not very much, but she did help. 
I decided to write to young Gloria and tell her that these bills 
had to be met, and that I simply didn t have enough actual cash 
with which to pay them. If she would lend me the money, I 
would repay her just as soon as the English regulations would 
allow my reserves to be drawn on in this country. I wrote her 
a letter saying exactly this, and sent it to her by messenger. The 
letter was returned, unopened. 

I was furious. I decided that if she would not answer my 
letter, I would go and face her. 

One morning, at about ten o clock, I rang her doorbell. The 
door was opened by a woman who, I assume, was Stokowski s 
secretary. I walked right in before she realized who I was. "I 
am Lady Furness," I said, "and I want to see Mrs. StoJ^owski." 

"Just a minute," the woman answered. "Fll see if she s in." 
Meanwhile, she ushered me into the drawing room, a large room 
whose chief feature was a library of Stokowski s recordings. I 
sat and waited. Shortly after, the doorbell rang, and in walked 
Stokowski. The secretary, who had opened the door, must have 
told him that I was waiting, and as he entered the hallway, he 


strode past the open archway that led into the room in which 
I was sitting. 

"Oh, Mr. Stokowski!" I called out to him. "May. . . ." 

Stokowski did not even turn his head. He walked straight on 
and disappeared in the back part of the house. I then heard his 
voice and Gloria s in the back room. 

I was stunned by his rudeness. My instinct was, of course, to 
leave at once. But love for my twin was a more compelling force 
than pride. I said to myself, "They have to pass me if they want 
to get out, and Fm going to sit here just as long as they hide in 
the back." 

But nothing happened; nobody came near me. About an hour 
later I rang the first bell I could find. Orlando, the butler, whom 
I knew well from happier days when Gloria was married to Pat, 
came in. 

"Orlando," I said, "will you please tell Mrs. Stokowski that if 
she doesn t come in here to see me Fm going into the back to 
see her?" 

"Fm terribly sorry, Lady Furness," Orlando answered, "but 
Mr. and Mrs. Stokowski went out the back door." 

I was terribly angry, both at them and myself. First, I con 
sidered that I had been stupid enough to sit quietly waiting 
when I should have marched straight to where Gloria was hiding. 
Second, I was incensed that Gloria and Stokowski should be so 
insulting and so cowardly as to sneak out of their own house 
through the back door, to avoid facing me. 

It is amazing the temperament that little Gloria has. How can 
a normal girl possibly be as affectionate as she seems to be at 
one moment, then the next day for no apparent rhyme or reason 
not speak to you? The change is what you would find in a book 
of short stories. You read one, and say to yourself, "This is 
charming." You put down the book. The next day you read 
another story, and you find that the action has nothing to do 


with the life of the central character in the first story; it is 
the account of another person quite the reverse of charming. 
One day Gloria would be overaffectionate, sentimentally tender; 
everything would be "Oh, Mummy darling this/ and "Oh, 
Mummy darling that"; and then, suddenly, without any under 
standable cause, she would turn and send a wire like the one she 
sent Gloria saying, "Looking through my books and accounts . . . 
I can no longer continue your monthly allowance." It doesn t 
make any sense. 

I could not understand such a mental turnabout without any 
provocation. If my twin, for example, had said something cut 
ting, such as "I think this marriage is ridiculous," or "What do 
you mean, marrying a man old enough to be my father?" litde 
Gloria s hostility would make sense. But Gloria didn t do any 
thing of the sort On the contrary. She said, "Darling, if this is 
what you want, and this means your happiness, go ahead and do 
it, and you have my blessing." Now you can t get angry at a 
mother who does everything she can to make it possible for you 
to have whatever it is you think you want. 

I think she must be either strangely influenced at such mo 
ments, or she had an odd flight of ideas. 

In 1950, when Tony was about to turn twenty-one, Gloria 
and I were together in London. We all wanted to make Tony s 
coming-of-age a festive event; we wanted to stage something 
diff erent from a run-of-the-mill party. But what? London at this 
time was a network of rations and restrictions; even ordinary 
parties posed a vexing problem. 

My darling Tony came up with a brilliant idea. He proposed 
that we should pack up the friends he wanted at the party 
and fly them all to Paris for a long weekend. Most of them had 
never been to France before, because of the war. 

It was arranged. The girls stayed at the Hotel Monceau, wk& 


Gloria and me as chaperones. Tony and the boys were billeted 
at another hotel. The first night we took them all to the theater 
then to a night club for supper and dancing. The following 
evening I gave a beautiful dinner for some forty or fifty 
at Maxim s. The young people were placed at one end of the 
table. At the other end Gloria and I sat, with our friends. It was 
a happy, festive evening; and everyone applauded when Tony s 
birthday cake arrived, decorated with the Furness coat of arms. 
After church, Sunday morning, we all went, in a fleet of cars, 
to Maurice Chalom s beautiful chateau at Maule, where he had 
invited us to spend the day and evening. No one I know gives 
more enchanting parties than Maurice; and this day he outdid 
himself. About sixty of us sat down to a delicious lunch. Later 
we were given le tour de la propriety. The gardens were lovely; 
the spring flowers were in bloom. At teatime, children from the 
village, dressed in their colorful native costumes, entertained us 
with folk songs and dances. 

Soon after we returned to London, Tony took his seat in the 
House of Lords. My heart was pounding when Gloria and I en 
tered the House to hear him make his maiden speech. To make 
matters worse for me, Gloria and I were seated in different 
places: Gloria was taken to the distinguished visitors gallery; I, 
as a peeress, was required to sit in the Peeresses Gallery. When 
Tony got up to speak, I said a little prayer. But my worry was 
unnecessary. Tony showed no sign of nervousness; he spoke 
clearly and with authority. I was very proud of him. And I was 
pleased when, some time later, Lord Hawhe wrote in the Official 
Report of the Parliamentary Debates that he wished to congratu 
late his "noble friend, Lord Furness, on the magnificent way in 
which he carried off his maiden oration." Gloria left for New 
York shortly after this. 

Tony now is an active member of the House, and takes great 
interest in the legislative affairs of his country. 




One day, after I had returned from Londonwhere I had 
visited Thelma I went to see Mamma. Mamma spoke of her 
"precious little grandchildren" my grandchildren. For the past 
year or so, ever since there were two of little Gloria s children, 
Mamma would talk to me, each time I saw her, about "my 
precious little grandchildren" totally effacing me, the actual 
grandmother, from the picture. She repeated this phrase until I 
thought I would go out of my mind. I had never seen my grand 
children and Mamma knew it. One day I reminded her of this 

"HI tell you what, Gloria," she said with the air of someone 
conferring a special favor, "my precious babies are coming to 
see their grandmamma tomorrow at three. Why don t you sit 
downstairs in the lobby but be sure it s way in the back and 
watch them go by? " 

"Mamma," I said, "how heartless can you be?" 

My mother looked at me as though she had no idea of what 
I was talking about, and as though she had made a perfectly rea 
sonable suggestion for which I was too unreasonable even to be 

Suddenly a thought flashed through my mind: what a dif 
ference between the feeling of Mamma and the spontaneous 
thoughtfulness of Ceil Chapman, a devoted friend who, immedi 
ately on hearing over the radio that my first grandson had been 
born, telephoned me in Barcelona where I had gone to see 
Dr. Arruga, the famous eye specialist, because of my failing 
sight. Her one idea was that I might be hurt if I learned of it 
through the newspapers. Mamma never did let me know, and 
now she was suggesting that I do a Stella Dallas in order to see 
my own grandchildren. 



In 1955 Thelma decided to move to Nassau, B.W.I., and of 
course I went with her. Some seven or eight months later Mamma 
wrote us saying she was desperately ill. Could we come to her? 
She needed us. She said she had no idea where little Gloria was. 
She was all alone in her hotel, and afraid. Naturally, we went to 
her at once. Our feeling was that no matter what Mamma had 
done to us, she was, after all, our mother, and if she needed us, 
our place was with her. 

On our arrival the doctor advised us that she should be taken 
to the Doctors Hospital for blood transfusions. 

Mamma had never before been a hospital patient, and the mo 
ment she was settled in her bed she began to complain. "Of 
course," she said, "you, twins, would put me in the oldest hos 
pital in New York." 

We were indignant. "Your doctor chose this hospital, 
Mamma," I said, "not Thelma or I. And this doesn t happen to 
be the oldest hospital in New York. It s one of the best and most 

"Look at this bed," Mamma groaned, "it s so old it s broken in 
three parts." 

The bed was the type of hospital bed whose parts are hinged 
so that they can be raised or lowered for the patient s com 
fort. Mamma never accepted our explanation of this and in 
sisted, until the day she went back home, that this was the oldest 
hospital in town and the beds the most antiquated. Yet it was 
only a few hours after Mamma returned to the hotel that she 
began to miss her comfortable "antiquated" bed. And to the 
relief of the nurses who had to lift her and listen to her com 
plaints, we immediately got one in. 

From that time on Mamma was bedridden. It was heart 
rending to see this dynamic, high-spirited woman gradually fade 
away. Toward the end she would ask us to lift her hands, say 
ing, "They are beautiful, aren t they?" And the only expression 
left in her once flashing eyes was a look of pleading helplessness. 


Mamma had always been a very vain woman. She had not had 
her hair dyed in months and at this rime she was completely gray; 
she was too ill to keep up appearances. She was, however, quite 
cute about the change. Just before she died, she asked for a 
mirror. We brought one to her. Looking at herself, she said, "Oh, 
my darlings, you see, all these shocks have turned my hair gray 

Mamma died a month later, in her own bed, at the hotel She 
was buried from the Lady Chapel in St. Patrick s Cathedral, 
where she had been married. Little Gloria came to the service 
with Carol Saroyan, and we were shocked to observe that she 
sat on the side opposite to ours. She left as soon as Mass was said. 

The only people at Mamma s grave were Thelma, Wann, and 
I. The grave is marked by a simple white shaft on which is 
carved die inscription she requested: "I implore eternal peace." 

Mamma left me $80,000 in her will. Once it was paid to me, 
Gloria sent word through her lawyer that she once again was 
discontinuing any personal contribution to my support. 

A short time after the funeral Gloria married Sidney Lumet 

I hoped that in her new-found happiness Gloria might find it 
in her heart to share a little of it with me. But this was not to 
be. Even the ceremony itself was kept hidden from me. One 
night Thelma and I were watching television and I saw Gloria 
and Sidney Lumet at their wedding reception, and I realized, to 
my horror, that this spectacle was being flashed from coast to 
coast. At this moment I couldn t help but think back to that 
memorable time when Gloria, then about to marry Stokowski, 
expressed a desire not to have me go with her to Reno, saying, 
"Please, Mummy darling, think of the publicity." 

Years ago, in the Twenties, when we were in Paris, we had 
the good fortune to meet the renowned chemist, Dr. Alexander 
Farkas. At that time he paid us the chantiing compliment of 
blending an exquisite fragrance just for us. At a party shortly 



before Mamma died we again met this brilliant man and we 
were delighted when, a few days later, we received two of the 
most divine and exciting fragrances together with a note: "With 
the compliments of Alex Farkas to the charming and glamorous 

We were so excited and thrilled with the beautiful perfumes 
that we telephoned Dr, Farkas at once, not only to thank him 
but to ask him if he would make up some more for our use. 
Our friends all asked us where we had obtained these enchanting 
fragrances. The idea then gradually grew on us that these blends 
should be on the market. And thus it was that the company, 
Parfums Jumelles, was born. 


Gloria and I are now businesswomen. We live together quietly 
in a small apartment in New York. We divide our time between 
our office and traveling about the country visiting our outlets. 
And we are delighted, and sometimes a little sorry, that we seem 
to have less and less time to ourselves. But every day we are en 
couraged to believe that American perfumers, like American 
designers, can match and exceed anything the Old World can 

This life is a vast change from the rounds of balls we knew 
as young girls. Our world is no longer that of safaris, holidays 
on the Riviera, stalking in the Highlands, the Newport season, 
racing at Saratoga, and the great balls of London between the 

The events in our lives, like all events in all lives, were the 
outcome of that always unpredictable blend of chance and tem 
perament. If we had our lives to live over again, we should 
probably proceed exactly as we did in the past, making the 
same mistakes in diff erent ways. 

Ours was an age this world will not see again, at least not in 



the same forms. It was an age of splendor and extravagance, of 
great projects and great follies. Between the two World Wars 
many changes have occurred: the great fortunes have dwindled, 
the great balls and parties have disappeared from the social scene, 
"society" has become a word of ambiguous meaning. Meanwhile, 
new industries and arts have risen; prohibition has come and 
gone; and the age of air and space travel and of nuclear fission 
has replaced the F. Scott Fitzgerald age in which we spent our 

We belong to the present as well as the past. We look back 
with no nostalgia, except for the sense of loss that comes with 
the passing of those we loved. Every age has its charm and its 
moments of beauty. And it is of these that we have tried to write, 
framing their special quality in the events that shaped our lives. 

As Lord Byron wrote: 

"All who joy would win 

Must share it happiness was born a twin."